FIREPLAY by William Wingate


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Suppose the following. A Soviet submarine explodes and sinks in 15,000 feet of water and the CIA (who else?) tries to raise it with the help of a ship and equipment belonging to an eccentric billionaire. You recall? Yes, a take-off on the Howard Hughes Glomar fiasco of a few years ago might make for a passable thriller. Here, unfortunately, it does not. Wingate assumes a spare, equipment-oriented style--""prominent above the deck was a 200-foot derrick for lowering sixteen-inch diameter pipe,"" etc.--and that part is fine. But the crews--from icy tycoon Felix Townsend to the even icier CIA robots to an almost impossibly icy killer named Ivan Yazov--are cut from the same block, and the plot, except for one appealing twist, gallops along to a frantically fanciful conclusion. Multiple killings, of course, along the way, as ""the explosive pressure expanded through Navikov's chest cavity, carrying flesh and bone with it."" If only that explosive pressure could have removed the cliches along with the usual flesh and bone.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1977
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan