Capitol Punishment

Ryne Douglas Pearson, Author
Ryne Douglas Pearson, Author William Morrow & Company $23 (312p) ISBN 978-0-688-12984-2
Reviewed on: 07/04/1994
Release date: 07/01/1994
This would-be techno-thriller initially appears to have the requisite action ingredients. While the Russians and Americans are at a delicate point in disarmament talks, a U.S. submarine vanishes. In Cuba, as an anti-Castro revolt nears success, Castro launches an atomic warhead hidden for 30 years. Then an FBI agent is gunned down in L.A. by Cuban hit men out to silence a defector. But almost immediately, Pearson's ( Cloudburst ) sprawling, overcrowded novel becomes mired in its own excesses. Events escalate at a barely manageable rate, as informers are chased, a boozing journalist survives one narrow escape after another, and the LA police try to solve domestic crimes with international overtones. In addition to an overwhelming number of poorly defined characters and turgid prose, the novel suffers from Pearson's incomplete mastery of present and past events as he mingles history with speculation. Some readers may also be short-circuited by all the techno-babble. Still, this partial misfire provides ample fodder for conspiracy buffs and military historians to chew on. (July)