U.S.S.A.

David Madsen, Author
David Madsen, Author William Morrow & Company $18.95 (369p) ISBN 978-0-688-07876-8
Reviewed on: 06/01/1989
Release date: 06/01/1989
An unidentified corpse found in a hotel room. A baffled police investigator turning for help to a cynical, disillusioned private investigator. A few fistfights, a bit of sex and red herrings galore. These may seem no more than typical conventions for a detective novel of the hard-boiled school. But U.S.S.A. is far more. Its setting is the near future, in a Russia conquered by the U.S. after WW III, which ended not in Armageddon, but with the failure of Soviet missile systems to function. Madsen ( Black Plume ) convincingly depicts an occupation more entrepreneurial than military. Yesterday's enemies are today's customers: Golden Arches and the Goodyear Blimp, American Express and 7-11, all have emigrated; a Disneyland is under construction in Moscow. Private eye Dan Joplin, a CIA agent whose job disappeared with victory, walks mean streets from booming downtown Moscow to a Siberia devastated by nuclear attack, where survivors are kept in strict quarantine. To solve the novel's puzzle he must understand a spectrum of a well-drawn characters, Russian and American, caught in a vortex of change that has made previous knowledge irrelevant, and living in a new order emphasizing buying and selling, better able to supply consumer goods than value systems. This superior thriller owes something to Tom Clancy, but much more to Raymond Chandler. BOMC and Mysterious Book Club alternates. (June)
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