Graham Greene fans may wonder if that master of the comic political thriller has returned, given this snappy debut. Neatly shaved severed heads start showing up in Fado, capital city of an unnamed country in East Africa, formerly a Portuguese colony. The nation is beset by bandits supported by worldwide right-wingers, whose leader, a former secret police tyrant exiled in Lisbon, has decided to initiate a takeover. To help him unleash a reign of terror, he has enlisted an East German and a Romanian on the run from their own newly democratic regimes. Fado police chief Gub, a third-generation Portuguese struggling with a limited force, calls on his boyhood chum Mireles, now a rising FBI star, who flies in from New York. Gub also relies on his lover Betty, an American who works with Save the Children, and Padre Francisco, a slightly foulmouthed Campari-swilling (and officially dead) priest in the village where the heads are coming from. Fado's seedy daily life, the new political order, the action and the people are all drawn with cinematic economy and throwaway deadpan humor. Coauthor of The Fall of Pan Am 103 and assistant managing editor of U.S. News & World Report , Duffy is someone to watch. (Sept.)
The publisher calls this first novel by an editor at U.S. News & World Report a dark comedy. But it's hard to find the humor in the severed heads that pop up around the capital of the African country of Fado. These terrorist acts are being engineered from exile by Viktor Alleja and executed by two former Eastern European agents. Alleja is determined to overthrow the government of Fado and return from his exile in Portugal. Alleja's only real opposition is Gub, Fado's sole police detective. When Gub begins to suspect Alleja's involvement, he calls on his best friend, FBI counterintelligence agent Tom Mireles, who returns to Fado to help. Aided by an eccentric village priest, they go in search of the terrorists--and concoct a plan to finish off Alleja. Though this is an entertaining story with interesting locale and characters, it suffers from a convoluted plot. Wait for the author's second novel.-- Roberta Pessah, St. John's Univ., Jamaica, N.Y.