Picks and Pans Review: Port Arthur Chicken

updated 10/15/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/15/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Tony Chiu

The title comes from a fortune-telling gimmick in New York's Chinatown: For a dime, a rooster dances, gets some feed and trips a device that releases a cryptic message. The hero of this action-packed first novel, a Chinese-American reporter, runs around like the chicken, trying to solve a plot so elaborate that it could supply three normal books—with a few chase scenes left over. On assignment in the Far East, the journalist ultimately unravels a devious plan to take over all of China's oil production. The villains suggest real people like Nixon, the Shah of Iran, Onassis and Howard Hughes. There is much violence, a funny sex scene and all the slick ingredients that go into this kind of pop novel. Chiu, a former writer for PEOPLE, works for the New York Times. (Morrow, $11.95)

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