A thriller involving a KGB agent's search for some canisters of poison gas before they fall into the hands of Western Intelligence, and the kidnap of a film crew by a gang of Kurdish freedom-fighters who have stolen the canisters.
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A first novel showing what happens to a Kurdish terrorist operation when a sympathetic movie star butts in. The producers of Barbary!, a miniseries dramatizing the kidnapping that provoked American hostilities against Tripoli, have commissioned the George Washington, a full-scale replica of the frigate from which Lydia Markham was seized in 1800. The TV script comes alarmingly to life when Kurdish nationalists led by the wily Ismet ("the little fox") seize the ship, lying in the Bosphorus, and make the usual demands. And when Amanda Morgan, the well-known activist star of Barbary!, offers to swap herself for the 40 hostages aboard the ship, the script turns chaotic, as the Kurds kidnap her with her full cooperation, set fire to the ship, and escape to the Greek islands. Amanda's interference cuts the American negotiator Paul Cyrus off from Greek and Turkish rescue efforts, but he sets out to rescue Amanda on his own - fulfilling a childhood dream of emulating Sir Richard Burton by disguising himself as a Kurd in order to pursue leads in Istanbul, and eventually forming an unlikely alliance with the KGB agent Feliks Ilyinski, who wants to retrieve cannisters of secret Soviet nerve gas the terrorists have stolen. Meanwhile, Amanda's Kurdish sympathies are pushed to the limit by a falling-out between sympathetic Ismet and unbalanced British mercenary John Courage, who's had his eye on Amanda ever since her first starring roles. The ensuing climax is confusing but predictable - with automatic weapons of every nationality decimating the cast until only Amanda and Paul are left for the final fadeout. Despite its drawn-out final sequence - too breathless to be really gripping - a highly competent debut, with just enough Aegean atmosphere to keep the action engaging. (Kirkus Reviews)