The Doomsday Conspiracy

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Commander Robert Bellamy is nearing retirement age and would like a cushy desk job; however, he is called in on a special assignment because of his unique skills. For one thing, the assignment requires familiarity with many difficult languages. He is given an unlimited budget but is told he must work strictly under cover.

Bellamy is ordered to locate the witnesses to the crash of a weather balloon was of a secret design and that the American authorities are anxious to identify the witnesses, who were all passengers aboard a tour bus, in order to swear them to secrecy.

When Bellamy reaches Switzerland he soon finds out that the so-called weather balloon was really a UFO and that the tour-bus passengers saw the bodies of two aliens from outer space. He uses all his expertise to identify the witnesses and relays their names and addresses back to his superior. What he does not know is that each witness is being murdered as quickly as he or she is identified.

Bellamy’s quest takes him all over Europe, North America, and Russia. The ruses he employs to learn witnesses’ names and addresses are sometimes truly ingenious and constitute the most interesting part of Sheldon’s book. As soon as Bellamy has completed his assignment, he finds that he himself has been placed on the hit list by a cabal of top-ranking officials of many different governments, who are concerned that the arrival of extraterrestrial visitors may cause worldwide panic or economic chaos. Facing imminent assassination, Bellamy receives unexpected help from a third alien creature, an exotic female with awesome psychic powers.

Sidney Sheldon was a highly successful film writer and went on to become an even more successful author of popular novels. THE DOOMSDAY CONSPIRACY is not very original either in theme or characterization; however, it is a thoroughly slick job of fiction writing, with an easy-to-follow plot that carries the reader on a luxury tour of Washington, Zurich, Bern, Geneva, London, Munich, Rome, Brussels, Ottawa, Kiev, Bucharest, Naples, and other interesting places. Sheldon’s new book is an example of what may become a dominant subgenre in the international thriller category: a post-Cold War novel in which governments are not pitted against one another but against their own constituents.