A blown rendezvous and a dead British agent in Bucharest send truculent veteran Quiller (Quiller Solitaire, etc.) to Moscow to contact Vladimir Zymyanin, the Russian agent who'd set up the meeting, and to find out the secret that was so vital and so dangerous. Zymyanin agrees to a meeting on the Trans-Siberian Express, but before he can do more than mutter imprecations about a troika of ex- generals aboard the train, he's shot, and Quiller is detained for his murder as the generals helicopter off into the sunset. A suspicious explosion in the generals' former car, however, allows Quiller to escape to the frigid town of Novosibirsk and resume his search for them by shadowing Tanya Rusakova, a clerk who seemed familiar with one of them--and he's right at hand when Tanya fingers former General Gennadi Vichenko to a soldier who kills him. Wanting his remaining targets alive and talking, Quiller promptly takes Tanya under his wing, learns that she and her brother Vadim had sworn private vengeance against Vichenko--a member of Podpolia, the hard-line underground determined to seize control of the former Soviet Union-- for executing their father, installs her in a safe house, and learns the next day that she's left the house and walked into a trap. The last of Quiller's rapidly shifting goals, then: to free Tanya from official clutches, flush out the Podpolia plotters, and spike their coup attempt--all before his director's cover is blown or the freelance terrorist who bombed the train can kill his last remaining leads. Tangled and a little murky, but considerably more energetic than any of Quiller's recent outings--the sort of case that suits this morose operator down to the ground.