Head Count

Brian Duffy, Author Putnam Publishing Group $19.95 (235p) ISBN 978-0-399-13669-6
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.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
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