Master criminal vs. super-cop--in a somewhat padded, slightly pretentious, but basically entertaining plot-twister that would make a dandy caper film for two stars if the ponderousness could be drained off. In an unnamed, San-Francisco-ish city, Police Chief Ed Groczek is sitting pretty, having just severed a drug connection, capturing ten million dollars' worth of heroin. But here comes unarrestable super-crook Frank Slovak, who, instead of retiring on what he's made from his grand-scale robberies, has been drawn to this city--partly by an old girlfriend, partly by some mysterious magnetic pull. Meeting accidentally, Groczek and Slovak recognize each other, see each other as alter egos, and are suddenly thrown into high gear: Slovak starts planning a super-crime to prove his superior brain power; Groczek starts worrying about what Slovak is planning and uses the police force to harass this new arch-enemy. Slovak's obvious heist target? The fortune in heroin that Groczek is using as evidence in the narcotics trial before shipping it out of town to a drug-rehabilitation center. Groczek takes tricky precautions--but still somehow Slovak manages not only to steal the heroin but also to throw suspicion on Groczek himself! So the police chief goes a little wacko and murders Slovak by hanging, or thinks he does; Slovak appears the next day, all smiles! Soon, however, both men are doomed, as Pulman (the I, Claudius teleplaywright) leans on the pretentious psychological note that threatens to murk up the whole book. But if you ignore all that--and imagine your favorite cool con-man and slow-burning toughie in the lead roles--this can be a tense, mean, topnotch time-waster.