Don Passman Mirage

ISBN 13: 9780708947272

Mirage

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9780708947272: Mirage

After playing in a two-day chess tournament, John Berger arrives at work to find his office building bombed and several people killed. When questioned, he explains he was playing chess at the time of the explosion. Then comes a greater shock - the police tell him the chess tournament never took place. Thus begins a terrifying spiral of events. Berger becomes both the FBI's and the police's prime suspect in the bombing, and suddenly he finds himself hallucinating and losing his grip on reality. After someone tries to kill him with a bomb in his own home, he goes on the run...

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Review:

Following his well-received 1999 debut, The Visionary, attorney-cum-novelist Don Passman returns with Mirage, a mind-control, techno-psycho thriller with overtones of Richard Condon's 1959 cold-war masterpiece, The Manchurian Candidate--hold the war, hold the masterpiece, but hold that thought.

John Berger is the CEO of a burgeoning cyber-encryption firm. He's seeing an attractive woman, his dog thinks he's god, and he's just passed an enjoyable weekend at an L.A. chess tourney. Only there was no tourney, he's hearing voices, and a bomb hidden in his desk has devastated his office building and two people in it. Plus, his girlfriend's missing. That's Sunday.

On Monday morning, in Orlando, kindly Mr. Simms tools into work and calmly detonates a pipe bomb. In Washington, an alert FBI agent senses a connection between the two explosions and puts it to Carl Davidson, head of the Domestic Terrorism Unit:

"I have a hunch there's something here. At least enough to look over the local's shoulders."

Davidson buttoned his tan raincoat and tied the waist belt in a knot. He turned up the collar, then drilled his eyes into Weldon.

"All right. Don't spend a lot of time. And for God's sake, don't put anyone important on it."

Enter agent Jill Landis, young and widowed, followed by other recognizable characters: Combs, the megalomaniacal director of Mirage, a shot-down, top-secret government mind-control experiment; "Charlie," the Serbian über-terrorist; Berger's comic Jewish mother; an alluringly macho cult specialist, et al. The plot thickens, love blooms in unforeseen places, and a clock is raced to save America from a nightmarish terrorist attack.

If Mirage sounds formulaic, it is. It's also highly readable, humorous, cleverly put together, and largely well-written. A masterpiece it's not; fun to read it is. Passman is, no doubt, a whiz-bang lawyer; if his first two efforts at fiction are any indication, he may become a whiz-bang novelist as well. --Michael Hudson

From Publishers Weekly:

The unlikely hero of Passman's second thriller (after The Visionary) is a ponytailed couch potato named John Berger, a computer cryptographer with a Stanford Ph.D. On his way to work at EXC Labs in Los Angeles on a Monday morning, Berger is stopped by a guard who informs him that EXC was blown up over the weekend. As the week wears on, things only get stranger. Interrogated by the FBI, Berger discovers that the bomb was planted in his own desk. And his alibiAhe attended what he thought was a chess tournamentAis blown out of the water when the FBI discovers there was no real tournament that weekend. Confused and distressed, Berger tries to piece together what might have happened and prove his innocence, with the assistance of Florida FBI agent Jill Landis, who spots a pattern after a similar bombing brings down a building in Orlando. It soon becomes clear that Berger was hypnotized the weekend of the bombing, but under whose direction? The key to the mystery lies in a secret project called Mirage, once funded by the U.S. government and shut down three years before. The project's director, Kenneth Combs, frustrated and bitter, is now in cahoots with a ring of international terrorists, and he is desperate to silence Berger, who was supposed to die in the EXC explosion. To make matters worse, Berger is hearing strange voices in his head that he must muffle if he is to save himself and the thousands of other people Combs's associates plan to eliminate. Berger is no James BondAlacking in muscle tone, he's also a "lousy liar, and not a particularly good actor" but Landis somehow falls in love with him anyway. Short on elaborate plotting and high-level suspense, Passman's latest does possess a quirky charm. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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