further mysteries it contains. Marjanobligingly draws another architecturalnmap, skillfully locating the burglarnalarm system, the guard—a dog—andnvon Hoffen’s assistant. None of thesenfaze Flood, who breaks into the garagenbehind the house, which is unaccountablynleft with no alarm system or dog,nand sets fire to McCabevon Hof fen’snMercedes. The blaze brings the humannand animal security guards racing outnof the house which Flood then enters.nHe disconnects the burglar alarm systemnand ascends to the attic, where hentwists the coat hooks to reveal a hiddennroom behind some wall panels. Once inside,nhe finds a new Dart missile aimednmenacingly at the ceiling, which isnequipped with a movable panel. Thenflagpole knobs, the eagles, all now assumentheir complete menace: thenU.S.S.R. has missiles pointed at eachnflagpole and/or eagle, plus a system tonactivate these within two minutes. Thennation is doomed, but Flood will, somehow,nsave us all.nIt would be fascinating to describenhow this fictional journalist managesnto leave the McCabe-von Hoffen house,npick up the plump, lovesick chambermaid,nfight his way free of the pursuingnsecurity guard and dog, and manages tonget to Central Park and hold anothernrendezvous with Marja. In fact, henmanages to take Marja away from NewnYork, though the newspapers now havenhim as a murder suspect. They travelnin nearly leisurely fashion toward Washington,nD.C., pausing only to makenrepeated love and to kill one pursuer.nAs usual, nobody sees this, though thenman is hurled off the deck of a ferry andnfalls into the suction of the propeller,nand turns the water to “a frothy pink.”nIn the nation’s capital. Flood managesnto see a U.S. senator from hisnstate whom he knows of old, thoughnthey had been long estranged. The senator,nconvinced of Flood’s innocence andnthe truth of his tale, arranges a latenightninterview for him with the Presidentnof the United States.nMr. Harris’s fictional president is annovelty amid all these stereotypes andncliches of the genre he has chosen. Fornone thing, the president’s name is Gilfnedders and he speaks with a burr, havingnbeen raised in Scotland. He is parsimonious,nas befits a cultural Scotsman runningnthe USA, and retires each nightnat ten o’clock, precisely. He also drinksnhis whiskey neat, as—of course—doesnthe hero. They hit it off at once; thenpresident believes Flood’s tale becausenhe must: otherwise the book would endnin a most dismaying fashion.nThe president, in this final section,ncalls a top-level conference. Flood isnconducted, via elevators and past successivensteel doors and grim guards withnmachine guns, down to the vast undergroundnbunker that lies beneath thenWhite House: installed during Truman’sntime. This layout resembles Hitler’snfamed and often-described retreatnbeneath the Berlin chancellery, withoutnthe homey touches and comforts of thatnlair. Intercoms speak, and the decor isndistinctly penitentiary gray.nThe conference room, when Floodnfinally reaches it, is similarly dismal,nand is first swept with “long-handlednelectronic devices like small vacuumncleaners.” Harris is not strong on technology.nThe men enter, presumablynholding the highest positions in thenland, exchanging dirty jokes. The participantsnreact to Flood’s tale along linesnthat resemble a Queens bar clientele:nwith obscenities and puzzlement. Afternseveral such sessions, Flood’s story isnchecked and its veracity accepted. ThennFlood realizes that he is “more thanntheir equal.”nMeanwhile, Flood has come to realizenthat “it wasn’t only the Russians ornthe Chinese who threatened the survivalnof the race, it was all the leaders of thenworld. They were the enemies . . .”nMeanwhile, he argues with the toplevelnofficials. Asked to leave, he refusesnand argues them out of it. The presidentnis “obviously impressed by Flood’snaudacity.” In response. Flood is impressednby the president’s “unerringnnnsense of manipulation.” Meanwhile hensizes up the others, decides the chiefnof staff was chosen for his stupidity,n”to make sure the military would be ineffective”nin the nation.nAfter several such “conferences” innwhich the reader is invited to achievencontempt for the leaders of the U.S.,nFlood holds an intimate chat with thenpresident in the Lincoln Room, and isnthen returned to the bunker. A friendlynCIA man has breakfast with him on thenfinal day, and tells him nothing will bendone; the missiles are defensive, andnthe Cold War will continue. Flood isnangered by this, and determines that henwill tell the people. Then, en route tonwhat he expects is another chat with thenpresident, he is shot in the back of thenhead. In the final instant—“He realizednthat from the beginning he had knownnthe end.”nOuch is the story line of Richard Harris’sn”novel.” It is detailed in its dennouncement because it is an excellentnexample of the modem American pennyndreadful, a twisted, suicidal inversionnof the old formula of good versus evil—nin which good was expected to win outn—into a formula where whatever isnAmerican is filthy and debased, twistednand false, where all the persons arenequally degraded, and where the endingnseems designed to turn the stomach ofnthe reader. It is obvious that to follownsuch twistings is not, in itself, eitherna pleasant or worthy undertaking. Therenhas to be a larger reason for such attention—andnthere is. Mr. Harris’s glitteringnjournalistic credentials entitlednhim to a full hearing in his venture intonfictional creativity. His background asna presumed expert on American lawnand politics promised portraits of realisticnleaders and of the remarkable suppleness,nthe compassion and thenprotection of individual rights thatnmake the American criminal the mostnprotected species of wild animal innthe world. Beyond that, there is an ob-nmmmmmmimm7nMarch/April 1980n