The Black Chamber

David Chacko, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (294p) ISBN 978-0-312-01390-5
Skillful novelists can prove exceptions to the old adage: If you want to send a message, use Western Union. Had Chacko (Brick Alley), better developed his characters and their involved situation through scenes rather than explanatory narrative, he might have pulled off a truly suspenseful novel. Instead, he has settled for a rushed, cliched cashing-in on public reaction to the Iran-contra scandal. CIA operative Bettina is sent into Nicaragua for dubious reasons. After an aborted operation she wants to come in from the cold but can't, without help from her ex-boyfriend, NSA operative Stephen Warfield. The contra leaders, most of whom are drug runners, gun runners and/or sons of former Nazis, are involved in the machinations of a clique within the CIA, including Bettina's boss Merrycroft and presidential advisor Grady Souther. The intelligence renegades are practicing ""damage control'' for policies gone amok, littering Washington, D.C., with bodies. Chacko unfortunately subordinates narrative tension to ideological point of view. Even for those willing to hear the message, and those just looking for a good thriller, this book frustrates more than it satisfies. (February 23)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
Paperback - 978-0-312-91524-7
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