The Golden Triangle is a mountainous terrain in southeast Asia, where several southwestern provinces of China converge with the frontiers of Thailand, Laos, and Burma. This is the area inherited by CIA agent Joe Stanford--in one of the most implausible but seductive ploys in a season of CIA novels (and this one echoes tinnily of Le CarrÃ‰'s British undercover division). Stanford, a Special Forces major, is yanked out of Saigon and sent to Manila where he undergoes a very unusual metamorphosis via plastic surgery. He is made over into Judson Quentin Winters, a recently ""liquidated"" CIA section chief in the Triangle who has been playing a double agent's game. In fact, he has supposedly been dumped to the sharks by Agency Section Chief Harper himself, a figure so shadowy that only seven living men know of his job as the top Agency' man. During the next two years Jud (Stanford) finds himself leading enough double lives to satisfy three novels, including being the mainspring of a Burmese insurrection, being a teakwood buyer, becoming the lover of a missionary's starcrossed Tonkinese daughter, and also the object of interest of the KGB and the Chinese opium traffickers. That he is also being sold out by his own superiors is almost a de rigueur plot device these days (or ever since Leamas came in from the cold). Proud keeps a flood of narrative detail and dirty deals pouring over the reader, and they sort of stimulate, but belief falters entirely about midway through.