China Lake

Anthony Hyde, Author, Inc Staff Tusitala, Author Alfred A. Knopf $22 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-41084-3
Hyde, whose The Red Fox was a critical and popular success in 1985, is not exactly prolific; this is only his second novel. But he puts his time to good use. China Lake is a highly assured performance--intricately plotted, psychologically astute and written with often startling power. The title refers to a weapons-testing center in the California desert, where early American missiles were tested. Years ago, British scientist David Harper was accused of selling his country's secrets to the Soviet Union, but base security officer Jack Tannis believed in his innocence and helped to clear him. Now, a mysterious stranger calls Tannis, wanting to talk about ``the old days,'' and mentions Harper's name, but when Tannis goes to meet him he finds a corpse. After this mysterious beginning, the plot winds through revelations about WW II concentration camps and the German rocket scientists, the suicide of Harper's wife in Wales, a bicycle chase in rural East Germany, two rivetingly exciting narrow escapes from death for Harper himself and an eerie and fateful conclusion in a remote desert cave. There are a beautifully physical love affair and one of the most convincingly rendered drug trips in fiction. But above all it is Hyde's evocation of the unforgiving desert, especially its forbiddingly dark nights, that lifts the novel far above conventional suspense fiction. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/30/1992
Release date: 04/01/1992
Mass Market Paperbound - 10 pages - 978-0-345-37695-4
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-671-75982-7
Hardcover - 978-0-517-11632-6
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