Howard Kaplan (above) could take much-needed lessons from Duncan Kyle, who parlays quirky characters, irony, surprise pacing, and jolts of action into a rich, if hardly deep, thriller texture. For instance, what many a writer would pad into a whole book, Kyle just uses to warm up with: it's early 1945, and the Germans, in a desperate attempt to turn Stalin against England, plan to prod flinty Nazi officer Rasch into turning traitor--they want him to run to the Russians with the ""White List,"" a list of prominent Englishmen who have secretly vowed to welcome Hitler's victory. Mid-plan, however, in Stockholm, Rasch encounters scrappy Irish newshound Conway, who sees a better use for the White List: blackmail. On to England for this unlikely duo, where the first two blackmailees on the pro-Nazi list pay up, but the third (a case of mistaken identity) reports the blackmail attempt to the authorities, who capture both Rasch and Conway. Only then does Kyle move into his Alistair Maclean-ish adventure book--when cunning Rasch, bargaining for his life under severe interrogation, reveals the existence of other highly embarrassing documents in Germany (e.g., evidence of a U.S. corporation's support of the Nazis), documents that are kept under guard at Wewelsburg Castle, ""Himmler's Camelot."" A commando raid into Germany is called for, of course, led by Rasch and reluctant Conway (both of whom the British would be happy to see killed). There are some overly drawn-out stretches during Rasch's duel-of-the-minds interrogation by the Brits, but this is clever, salty, forcefully elegant work well up to Kyle's high standards--action and personality in page-turning tandem.