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Philippe Van Rjndt.

Toronto, Lester & Orpen Dennys, c1983.
406pp, cloth, $18.95.
ISBN 0-919630-16-2.

Grades 12 and up.
Reviewed by Ted Monkhouse.

Volume 11 Number 4.
1983 July.

From the dust jacket emblazoned in the blood red, Samaritan, printed in the now familiar script of the Polish solidarity union's title, van Rjndt takes the reader through forty relentlessly exciting chapters. Here is a writer who does not have to take a back seat to others of the same genre, such as Ludlum, Forsyth, and Higgins. A Polish Cardinal, marked for extermination, is freed in exchange for a life-saving operation on the Russian leader by an American doctor. Through to his eventual election as Pope, the Polish Cardinal is involved with the international intrigue of his closest friends, an Israeli agent and a compatriot bishop. Set against today's headlines, which the New York Times Book Review says "presages history", the story catches readers up in all sorts of possibilities not revealed by the media. Politics and power struggles behind the walls of the Vatican and the Kremlin leave the reader breathless, page after burning page, as another holocaust looms in the struggle for power and control. Numerous surprises coupled with van Rjndt's genuine flair for suspense makes this a first class, world class novel.

At 33 years of age, van Rjndt clearly demonstrates a talent often not reached by other recognized authors of popular fiction. He has mastered the craft of balanced dialogue and exposition, using all the techniques necessary to hold a reader's attention to the last line. Characters are well drawn, settings true, conversations real, and facts marshalled to the reader's ultimate satisfaction. All of his first time readers will want to make sure they pick up copies of The Tetramachus Collection (Lester & Orpen, 1977), Blueprint,* and The Trial of Adolf Hitler ** and will eagerly await future novels.

This is general adult fiction similar to that of the above-named authors, which is greedily read by young adults. The librarian could do no better than to ensure that Samaritan is available for this audience. In a time of budget restraint and the need for purchasing only the best, Samaritan meets the criteria. In schools where fiction must take second place to curriculum materials, Samaritan should be one of the few fiction titles purchased by the high school.

*Reviewed vol. VI/3 Summer 1978p.162.
**Reviewed vol. VII/3 Summer 1979 p.158.

Ted Monkhouse, Wellington County Board of Education, Guelph, ON.
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