Treachery as old as the Second World War confuses and confounds the efforts of an American agent-for-hire--one trying to keep a Soviet turncoat safe at the Viennese end of his escape route. At odds with the le Carrâ€šan baroque atmosphere is the forthright American character of Marty Prevadello: the contrast is the primary pleasure of this mole-ridden thriller. Prevadello trained as a New York policeman and began his career pounding a beat; but his intelligence and his Jesuit-refined outlook made him a target of intelligence recruiters, and he was diverted to a spy's life. From which he has retired. And to which he is forcibly recalled at the height of the Watergate shenanigans by his former masters--who now need him to assist in the recovery of a panicky, lewd, highly placed Soviet linguist about to be exposed as an agent of the Americans. It is not very long before Prevadello senses that his work is being made unnaturally difficult--difficult in a way that strongly suggests that someone among his employers has been bent every bit as far as the panicky translator. As the escaping Russian races in secret from Moscow to Vienna, Prevadello himself finds it necessary to hide from both sides if he is to pluck the fugitive safely from a train full of emigrating refuseniks. An unusually good first novel, with lots of vivid atmosphere.