City of Light

Michael Doane, Author Alfred A. Knopf $22 (323p) ISBN 978-0-394-58107-1
Thomas Zane, the driven, deracinated, cynical hero of this intelligent, intricate thriller, is an American in Paris, where he unravels coded computer messages for an agency that clandestinely monitors civil wars, terrorism and human rights abuses worldwide. Haunted by thoughts of his mother, a jailed '60s radical, Zane desperately seeks three men: a Nigerian poet turned fanatic revolutionary, an English colleague who has disappeared in Africa, and a Swedish doctor who assists mercenaries in ``humane'' forms of torture. Zane has slept with the Nigerian militant's estranged South African wife, whom the missing English operative also loves. The action shifts from a Parisian jazz club to Nigeria and then to Mali, where the main characters face off in a sensational climax amid evil spirits, lepers and flies that spread blindness-inducing parasites. Reeling off telegraphic prose, Doane ( The Surprise of Burning ) develops his characters with great care, including Fingers, an aged black American pianist, and sultry barmaid Marie. BOMC alternate. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
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