Only a strong pre-existing interest in the non-fiction question behind this fiction--what caused the 1968 plane crash that killed de Gaulle's widely hated Chief of Staff, General Ailleret?--will keep American readers chugging through a slow-paced, low-suspense series of interviews and ambushes. Charles Stone, an English dilettante suffering from Gallic ennui (""he felt a terrible dust building up around his soul, and the dust was banality""), starts investigating Ailleret's death four years after the fact--without much apparent basis for his dark suspicions. But when he discovers that the General's anti-American speeches made soon before the crash have been expunged from history, he's sure he's onto something. And indeed, the General's assassins--some ruthless, power-hungry old Vichyite anti-Gaullists--begin to fear Stone's inquiries and try to silence him and prevent his taped reports from reaching London. After following some red herrings involving Ailleret's role in the Algeria crisis, Stone tracks down the man who was hired to tamper with the plane, but, before the story can break, both this witness and Stone will die. As always in such blithely fictionalized exposÃ‰s, it's impossible to assess the worthiness of the factual evidence, and strangers to France's byzantine factional feuds will find more confusion than stimulation. Decently written, perhaps sincere in its muckraking intentions, but totally dependent on a French hook that doesn't really translate.