ROSS THOMAS – The Mordida Man. Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 1981. Berkley, paperback, 1983. Mysterious Press, paperback, 1994.

   A terrorist with connections with Libya is kidnapped. The Libyans think the CIA was responsible, and so they take the Presidet’s brother as a hostage. They lop off his ear and send it to the President, who calls in the Mordida Man.

   Who is Chubb Dunjee, an ex-congressman who who received his nickname in Mexico fo his ability to make a bribe count. He still has a reputation for setting events in motion.

   Complications ensue. Thomas provides some very oblique tangents to what otherwise wold be a very direct story, and he has it all formly under control until the final minutes, when suddenly the plot seems to fall apart beneath his feet.

   Don’t try to analyze Chubb’s final plan. It’s too elaborate to have been improvised on the spot, which is his specialty. It obviously wasn’t created on the spot, and yet there appears to have been no way he could have known what to expect ahead of time. Plots as intricately wound as this one need airtight support. This one doesn’t.

   There’s a lot to like in what comes before. Thomas is unarguably a witty and clever writer. Somehow, though, this time I seem to have left all my ardor in my other pants.

–Very slightly revised from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 5, No. 6, Nov/Dec 1981.