An improvement over previous cases for sassy exec Anna Peters of New World Oil. The primary boost here comes from the appearance of a foil for Anna's brisk coolness: New World scientist Philip McKenzie, a believably milquetoasty con-man who is also a moody, gullible, self-destructive homosexual. McKenzie has concocted a scheme involving large sums for the supposed defection of an East German genius (who has a plan for separating oil from seawater), and Anna--in the dark but suspicious--follows McKenzie around Germany, trying to arrange a rendezvous, a pay-off, a verification of scientific papers. Soon, however, McKenzie's plan has backfired--his German confederates are ruthless--and Anna escapes a Rhineland castle prison only to be persuaded by German cops to help bait the bad guys. Sort of a Helen MacInnes itinerary without the gracefulness, but less convoluted than previous outings and bolstered mightily by the foolishly appealing Dr. McKenzie.