Intriguing but disastrously over-plotted: a knotty spy concoction involving traitors, defectors, moles, adulterers,...

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THE ENGLISHMAN'S DAUGHTER

Intriguing but disastrously over-plotted: a knotty spy concoction involving traitors, defectors, moles, adulterers, psychopathic killers, and more--with none of the threads (some of which are promising) given enough development or focus. The Englishman is Henry Child, a Treasury official who some years ago defected to Russia, becoming a shadowy Kremlin manipulator and the homosexual lover of a KGB biggie. But now, for reasons never made convincing, Child is instigating a tenuous scheme to encourage Soviet film-director Dollsky to defect--and thus to embarrass a KGB agent named Zorin (whose Jewish wife, as it happens, is having an affair with a KGB general). Unbeknownst to Child, however, Zorin has in fact been accumulating evidence pointing to Dollsky as the kinky mass-murderer of girls in Leningrad (with imitative echoes of Gorky Park). And, by strained coincidence, it just so happens that the Child/KGB scheme to stage-manage Dollsky's defection (at the Venice Film Festival) leads the psycho-director to the West and right into the arms of. . . Lady Pandora Child, the Englishman's own beloved daughter (a top fashion model and budding film actress). So there'll be a terrible irony waiting for the scheming Child before he dies in a death-duel with his KGB lover--while Pandora must be rescued at the last minute from the lethally perverse Dollsky. This, then, is the kernel of Evans' best plot idea here. Unfortunately, however, instead of texturing it, à la CarrÉ, with the sort of character-rich detail that generates plausibility, Evans (the forgettable Titles, 1978) frays the central potential with an array of thin, often tacky subplots: the love/sex palship of Lady Pandora and playboy Rufus Gunn (an unappealing duo); Rufus' involvement in an international tussle over love-letters written to him by Princess Margaret (unnamed but obviously indicated); a Kremlin/Child scheme concerning the synthetic manufacture of gold; plus that KGB love-triangle. In all: uncompelling criss-cross suspense--faintly stylish, occasionally inventive, but too busy and uncoordinated for steady entertainment.

Pub Date: April 1, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1983