LITTLE GREY MICE by Brian Freemantle


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A compelling case of sexpionage set in Bonn at the thaw of the cold war, by veteran spymeister Freemantle (O'Farrell's Law, 1989, etc.). ""Little grey mice,"" Freemantle lets us know, is spy slang ""for lonely, unattached women employed in government service""--women like Elke Meyer, personal assistant to a top West German cabinet minister and perfect prey for a man like Otto Reimann, an East German ""raven""--a male spy trained in the arts of sexual seduction. Reimann's mission is to suborn Elke utterly, which he, posing as a journalist, does by fulfilling her every romantic desire in a masterful manipulation played out in some of the most sophisticatedly sadistic scenes in recent spy fiction (""Reimann abruptly put the telephone down, not allowing her a farewell reply. Elke Meyer had to be alone now, think alone, grow further uncertain. Marinate was the word that most readily came into Reimann's mind...""). A clutch of well-drawn subplots counterpoint the raven's maneuverings--especially tensions between the spy and his demanding superiors and jealous wife, and between Elke and her adulterous, envious sister--though some, particularly the detailed accounts of cabinet meetings that Elke attends, drag on the plot. The not-unexpected kicker is that Reimann, just like Elke, can't resist love's passionate assault, and the spy, to his dismay, falls in love with his victim even as she begins to feed him top-secret documents to further his alleged journalistic career. It's an explosive situation fraught with possibility--but, alas, Freemantle defuses it with one big ironic twist that reveals Elke as still a mouse, albeit a mouse that roars. Richly textured characters, the unusual premise, and Reimann's hypnotically cruel seduction--all make this, despite flaws (including an occasional snail's pace), one of Freemantle's finest.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1992
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: St. Martin's