CIA infighting, official and free-lance, over a dead spook's memoirs--a wearily conventional plot enlivened by Thomas's inimitably offspeed delivery. Only four mourners attend Steadfast Haynes's Arlington funeral, and within a few days three of them--his recent companion Isabelle Gelinet (formerly of the Agence France. Presse); his aging former colleague Gilbert Unclean; and his old friend Tinker Bums (also of the CIA)--are dead, presumably killed over Isabelle's polite threat to publish Mercenary Calling, Haynes's 380-page exposÃ‰ of the agency that never officially employed him (and so can't legally suppress the manuscript). The fourth mourner, Haynes's son Granville, joins forces with his father's unflappable lawyer Howard Mott, the urbane (though slightly rusty) Michael Padillo and Cyril McCorkle, co-owners of an unofficial CIA haunt called Mac's Place, and McCorkle's adventurous daughter Erika to stage and survive a bidding war over those memoirs--even though the only copy he can find consists mostly of blank, numbered pages. The murder plot and the underlying intrigue would keep a lesser storyteller fully occupied, but Thomas's hand shows, as usual, in the loopy touches: the assassin masquerading as a frumpy typist, the genially two-(and three-) faced competition for the manuscript, the offhandedly capable hero's determination to extort a million dollars he doesn't really want. As in last year's The Fourth Durango, Thomas is still coasting on a plot that isn't up to his peerless way with suave, lightsome treachery. But who cares?