Told in the devilishly suave, casually lyric tones of Richard Burton, this debut thriller drips with shock and gore but is superior fare, with an especially flesh voice in the opening pages. Robert Thorne, a middle-aging former embassy brat raised in world capitals, has retired from journalism to earn his living as a free-lance writer and Russian expert. On the very anniversary of his father's suicide 20 years earlier, Thorne's estranged Canadian girlfriend, millionairess May Brightman, phones to tell him that her own father has just disappeared--a suicide? Will Thorne help find him? May reveals that she is adopted--she's absolutely certain this ties in. When Harry Brightman turns up dead in Detroit, an apparent suicide who has blown his face off with a shotgun in his gorgeous Mark VII Jaguar saloon, Thorne goes there to support May and spare her having to identify the body--although he's never met the dead man. His sleuthing, however, leads him into a strange area where he feels that he's uncovering as much about himself as he is about Brightman and the mystery of who May's real father is. Some evidence points to May being Brightman's illegitimate daughter whom he legitimized through adoption. But Thorne finds that May's ""lost"" mother was actually black--which May clearly isn't. The search for her identity and for a hidden fortune in gold certificates takes Thorne through the States, Canada, Europe--and Russia, where the novel's richest scenes take place. The Red Fox's ostensible villain is a furrier carrying on a business between Russia and the States, a plot ploy strongly remindful of Martin Cruz Smith's Gorky Park, while a plenitude of rain and whiskey resemble the sustained drizzle and overcast of Le Carrâ€š's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. When the reader is thrice told that someone is dead, it's a dead certainty that that person will bounce up among the living. And the final revelation of May's identity is not convincingly prepared for. Despite these twittings, this is a work of such savoir-faire and sheer style, and features so many enjoyably full-bodied minor characters, that much is forgiven, including overplottiness, while the Russian material is tremendously attractive and vital. A great commercial success seems assured.