Richly written debut spy thriller, with delicious turns and quirks about the CIA's penetration into major international businesses, that ends up merely bloodsoaked. Gilboy, trained as an agent handler by the Defense Intelligence Agency, clearly knows whereof he speaks. Peter Gaines finds himself dismissed by the CIA after 18 years in the field without achieving high position. His cashiering comes about when he's been handed Operation Fantasy Plan in Bangkok, a supremely refined brothel featuring young Thai girls and children kidnapped from around the world. Gaines was supposed to use this brothel to blackmail visiting Japanese scientists and businessmen who use the whorehouse to siphon off tensions created back home. Each room has recording devices, and the Japanese bigwigs have bizarre desires, including mutilation. When a uniquely beautiful Thai virgin, Songkha Chattkatavong, or Song, is recruited to bear the child of a Japanese scientist, Gaines can no longer bear his duty and hopes to help Song escape. But she's sent north for 11 months of sex-training and he's recalled to headquarters in Virginia, where he's essentially fired without severance pay. He takes his savings and returns to Thailand to rescue Song—soon finding himself, however, the object of CIA attentions and under surveillance. He suspects a neighbor, Penny O'Hara, of spying on him, and eventually it turns out that she works for his former roommate and best friend at the Agency Institute, where he was first trained. Gaines at last, by various indirections, makes his way back to the Bangkok brothel and quickly becomes involved in ever more outrÇ activities that force him to kill a Japanese who mutilates girls and then, in search of Song, to go on the run with a Thai girl who may or may not be spying on him. The narrative gets increasingly melodramatic, but le CarrÇ fans will love the bleak Spy Who Came in from the Cold first half.
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