Merlin's Web

Susan Mayse, Author Beech Tree Paperback Book $18.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-688-07526-2
Two themes mesh uneasily in this debut thriller by Canadian journalist Mayse: Welsh nationalism and the kidnapping of the heir to the British throne. Mayse tries to suggest the atmosphere of a police state, but the narrative lacks emotion and suffers from clumsy points of view, though it improves greatly toward the end. A spider's web of international intrigue is buried by didactic passages on the endangered Celtic culture. We are told more about the terrorists' motivations than we are shown, and they remain two-dimensional, awkwardly manipulated. They are led by fanatical Gwyn Davies, with help from an IRA Provo and a PLO ""ambassador.'' Hot on the story is Peter Holt, a BBC reporter who is sucked into working with MI5 as a negotiator, at odds with the SAS who intend a bloody rescue of their prince. After the kidnapping goes awry, Gwyn finds support from the Welsh, but real help comes only from the wealthy American Welshman, Madog Nilssen, former Army captain in Vietnam. Madog highlights another of the novel's problems: the futuristic background during the reign of King Charles and Queen ``Di'' clashes disconcertingly with its otherwise contemporary feel. Mayes has yet to learn how to weave ``cause'' and craft into a seamless unit. (September 28)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1987
Release date: 09/01/1987
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