Windmills of the Gods (1988)

In the first roughly ten minutes of “Windmills of the Gods,” which we know will be a corker because it’s based on a Sidney Sheldon novel, we learn two very important things:

First, deep in Finland, in a cabin about as rickety as that of Abraham Lincoln’s, a super secret agent led by mouthpiece Ian McKellan, plans the assassinations of world leaders just for the heck of it.  Okay, they aren’t that evil, though it’s hard to tell since we only see the backs of their heads, the budget blown in Sir Ian’s hairpiece, but they are a combination of the ultra-left and the ultra-right who view any changes in the world order as a problem for them.

Second, Jaclyn Smith is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Kansas whose parents came from Romania.  I’ll give you a moment to let that one sink in.

Unfortunately, Windmills of the Gods was politically neutered by the fall of Communism, but it does show up at the very last minute.  Of all people in the entire country for President Michael Moriarty to pick as Ambassador to Romania, where he has a grand plan to restructure the way the US does business with the Communists, he picks our Jaclyn.  Why?  I couldn’t tell you.  She can’t even get her bratty teenage daughter to eat boxed cereal, let alone run an embassy!

But, pick her he does.  However, Jaclyn says no because her husband has a thriving medical practice and her children are of an age that necessitates staying in Kansas.  Late one night, hubby is off to the hospital to help a sick patient and the problem of his thriving medical practice is rectified with a handy car crash.

Free to be Ambassador, Jaclyn trots off to Washington to learn to be an Ambassador, taking the standard five-minute course that seems to be the only one offered.  She’s assigned Robert Wagner as her Chief of Staff, but that is a problem because the two do not hit it off.  He’s abrasive and pushy and Jaclyn, who was awfully mousy back in Kansas, is suddenly the toughest of dames.

Ruling Romania is President Ionescu, Franco Nero.  Imperious in a mustache always about to fall off, Nero is enchanted by the new lady Ambassador, despite having her spied on.  A whole host of characters make appearances, but only two are important.  There is sweet Ruby Dee as Jaclyn’s secretary and Christopher Cazenove as an alluring French doctor who romances Jaclyn.  Well of course he does, it’s a Sidney Sheldon novel.

Meanwhile, the bad guys have decided that if they kill Jaclyn, the US President’s plan to change the way the world works will be upended, world order will stay the way it is.  Who knew one lone Ambassador was that important?  To make sure we understand just how mean these guys are, they want to kill her kids too.  No one since the Nazis have ever wanted to kill kids!

We meet our romantic lead, Mr. Cazenove as a doctor attached to the French embassy.  Jaclyn attends the opera one night, alone, and her limo blows a tire, so she decides to walk home.  Through Communist Bucharest, a city that has already proven very unfriendly to her.  She gets mugged, but Christopher shows up just in time to scare the baddies off.  The police come swooping in and when a surprisingly calm Jaclyn goes to point out her hero..he’s gone…

…only to turn up at an embassy function later on.  He teaches her to toast without holding a glass of champagne (details like that puff this up to three hours) and tells his sad tale of losing his wife and daughters to a bomber in Beirut.  In fact, he tells that story so well, and so often, she’s immediately smitten.  Her widows weeds didn’t follow her to Romania, and the kids don’t go into the countryside as she’s wined by her French hero.

Robert Wagner is tries telling her the doctor is not who he seems, that he never had a family, but one of her minions at the embassy finds a dossier backing up the story.  She would chew out RJ in the secret chamber of the embassy (we’re told they sweep the embassy for bugs every few hours, but there is one room that is safe from bugs and safe from tapped phones–how? If the Romanians are that clever, don’t they know about this room too?), but she has another of her near fainting attacks that have lately been plaguing her.

One faint too many brings the doctor to her side (but not her maid, who leaves her in a crumpled heap on the floor to go for the doctor).  All whispery and gallant, he helps her figure out that it must be Robert Wagner who is poisoning her because the only routine she has all day is the cup of coffee he personally makes in his office and delivers to her.

It’s about time the aide and the doc speak, but the conversation in the park isn’t a long one, for RJ whips out a silenced gun and kills the doc.  Amazingly, everyone is able to keep this from Jaclyn except for Ruby, usually the smartest of the dimwit gang of blowhards who report to Jaclyn (she’s fired a few by this time).  Ruby expresses her sympathy and it crushes Jaclyn, because now she feels she’s completely alone, at the mercy of RJ.

The assassination is planned for a July 4 celebration at the American embassy and the super secret organization hires an Argentinian assassin to handle it all.  The details are a hoot: basically he fills red, white and blue balloons with a dangerous gas so that when an electrical spark goes off, the whole embassy will go KAPOW!  With the entire US military at her service, including four very dull marines to watch her kids, Jaclyn nervously attends the party, so preoccupied the whole time that when RJ figures out the balloon thing and tells her to get the guests out, the best she can do is tell everyone there is a small fire in the kitchen and they need to move to the balcony.  Suddenly a party of hundreds clusters on a balcony meant to fit about 25, while waiters pass around trays of drinks.  There’s a convenient trapdoor in the ceiling, the ballons are let out by RJ at his manliest and the exploding balloons look like fireworks.  Everyone is saved.

So is Robert Wagner the bad guy?  Oh, come on!  He’s Robert Wagner!  Of course he’s not the bad guy.  Sure, he is seen sitting at the table with Ian McKellan, but he’s a double agent.  He’s been protecting Jaclyn all along.  Yes, he poisoned her, but only to get her safely back to the US since we’re conveniently told that no Ambassador is allowed to be treated at any hospital outside of the United States (someone show me that page of protocol).  He knew the doctor was in on the plot.

The bad guys are trumped and die a series of gruesome deaths and wimpy President Michael Moriarty wants to send Jaclyn Smith back to her post.  It’s full of danger, but she can handle it.  After all, during her time there, she managed to comandeer a supersonic jet filled with the only antidote on the planet that could save President Franco Nero’s son from death, thus blackmailing him into letting Romanian dissidents and priests leave the country.  Our hick professor from Kansas is now a major world power player.

And she still can’t dress to save her life!

Categories: Romance Miniseries

3 Comments to “Windmills of the Gods (1988)”

  1. jailer92 13 October 2016 at 5:39 pm #

    is there a sequel to this book…

  2. jailer92 13 October 2016 at 5:40 pm #

    is there a sequel to Windmills of The Gods

    • Bj Kirschner 12 November 2016 at 1:05 pm #

      No, I’m afraid not. Perhaps you might be thinking of Rage of Angels? There was miniseries sequel, but it was not based on a book, merely a continuation of Sheldon’s characters.


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