The Harbinger

Mark Graham, Author Henry Holt & Company $0 (371p) ISBN 978-0-8050-0725-1
Beginning with a murder in a train-station restroom and climaxing with the exposure of a conspiracy that brings a nation to the brink of revolution, this smart, suspenseful first novel merges the style of a police procedural and the scope of a Ludlumesque tale of international intrigue. It is told, however, with one distinguishing variationits South African setting, where homicide inspector Nigel Mansell must fight resistance to his investigation of a union leader's murder from his own department as well as the from the security branch and, finally, the highest levels of government. As Mansell's probe uncovers a ministerial plot to seize control of his country's gold mines, and as the chain of betrayal and deceit grows, Graham's byzantine plotting becomes somewhat overbooked with extraneous characters and minor twists. Despite a few labored sections, this is an impressive debut, with a hero whose feelings of duty and disgust compel attention, and a vividly detailed, convincing portrait of South Africa that enhances the story at every turn and marks Graham as a writer to watch. 50,000 first printing; $75,000 ad/promo. (June)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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