BOOBY TRAP by William Stevenson


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Another grade-B display case for international intrigue from Stevenson, who's chronicled spy stuff in non-fiction (A Man Called Intrepid, 1976) and novels (The Ghosts of Africa, 1980; Eclipse, 1986). The ex-British colony of the Windfall Islands is the lush Caribbean setting in which Stevenson places his grab bag of stock characters. Chief among them are rough-and-ready Pete Casey, ex-Vietnam War POW, and the man the CIA asks him to ""get,"" Zia Gabbiya (a Qaddafi twin, down to the curly black hair). Casey takes the CIA assignment out of patriotic fervor; once in the Windfalls, where Gabbiya is sailing, additional motivation comes from involvement with lovely lawyer Alison Bracken and her typically eccentric British dad, Lord John Bracken, both of whom despise Gabbiya's economic stranglehold on the Islands. Stevenson devotes much energy, successfully, to depicting the sultry rhythms of the Windfalls, and, more busily and with less pleasing result, to tracking the heavy-footed tangos between the main characters, particularly Casey and Gabbiya. Gabbiya, who's ostensibly in the Windfalls to check up on his investments and who soon learns of Casey's mission, toys with the American, avoiding any attack by dangling before him the hope of winning release of some MIA's. In between fitful acts of violence--a panji spiking of Casey's adopted dog, the drowning of his CIA contact--Casey and the Brackens slowly figure out Gabbiya's real purpose for his Caribbean visit: to stake claim on mineral-rich rock formations in nearby international waters, and to lure the US into a bumbling invasion of the Windfalls. In a hokey, nearly charming climax, Casey and pals pilot an antique plane and sink Gabbiya's yacht, capturing the despot--who meets his fate in a clever twist--and saving Yankee honor and Caribbean freedom. A curiously old-fashioned thriller, with its exotic locale, diabolical villain, and dashing lead and his two sidekicks: nothing special, but sturdy enough to support a rainy afternoon's read.

Pub Date: April 3rd, 1987
Publisher: Doubleday