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The murder of George Maitland, a cultural attachÉ in Berlin, leads venerable British agent Quiller (Quiller Bamboo, 1991, etc.) to a terrorist plot whose bold simplicity recalls the palmy days of SPECTRE. Figuring that his hapless colleague McCane was gunned down because of his imminent meeting with Maitland's seductively innocent widow Helen--a meeting that would've, put McCane on the trail of the Berlin-based terrorist cabal Nemesis--Ouiller asks to fill McCane's shoes and complete the mission called Solitaire. And immediately he starts to make his masters sorry they agreed: he clashes with his rule-bound field director Thrower, demands a new director, and uses his tried-and-true cowboy techniques en route to infiltrate Nemesis by posing as an arms dealer to sexual switch-hitter Inge Stoph and maniacally focused Nemesis chief Dieter Klaus. Klaus first tortures Quiller, then accepts his offer to sell him a nuclear device while still planning to kill Quiller at the delivery point. Sounds like Goldfinger, doesn't it?--and the direct comparison Hall risks shows how much more one-dimensional the truculent Quiller is than his more spirited original, and how long in the tooth he's been getting lately. Even the story's one surprise--just what plans does Klaus have for a hijacked jet, an atom bomb, a suicide military squad, and two critical deadlines?--is no surprise at all. Quiller saves the world, of course, though his Sixties tradecraft is wearing thin. Still, this is sturdy, suspenseful entertainment for readers who can park their impatience outside.

Pub Date: April 16th, 1992
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Morrow