There's more talk than action in this slim new WW II thriller from veteran MacLean--and much of the chatting is of the stiff-upper-flip variety, courtesy of cool, smartsy hero Peter Petersen. First met in Rome, Yugoslav-born Petersen would seem, by usual war-novel standards, to be a bad guy: with help from a Nazi Colonel, he's planning to sneak over to Yugoslavia and get crucial intelligence-data to the Royalist, anti-Partisan forces in the mountains. Also along for the trip: Petersen's two loyal cronies; twin brother-and-sister radio operators, supposedly seeking to join the Serbian Royalists; beautiful stranger Lorraine (who claims to be Italian but is really English); the enigmatic Giacomo (who may be Yugoslavian); and assorted other shady types--many of whom turn out to be working for Italian Intelligence. So, on the boat over to Italian-occupied Ploce, there are suspicious goings-on involving Petersen's envelope of top-secret data--as well as the budding of a mild romance between Petersen and radio-operator Safina. And when the group heads into the hills and is captured by the Partisans, almost everyone--unsurprisingly--is revealed to really be on the Partisan side. (There are long speeches about the insanity of Britain's support of the Royalists.) The entire mission, in fact, turns out to be aimed at exposing the villainous anti-Partisan doings of an Italian Major-including the kidnap of Lorraine's little boy. But don't look for a thrilling rescue here, or much derring-do of any kind, for that matter: the liveliest action involves some semi-nasty interrogation/torture. And, with Petersen's occasionally amusing, often-tiresome banter at the forefront, this is likely to disappoint most MacLean fans--though WW II buffs may appreciate the local colors, the Serbian-faction details, and the low-key spy puzzle.