The newest Charlie Muffin title shows Freemantle at his best. In Comrade Charlie (1992) the British agent chose duty over love and left KGB flame Natalia waiting at the airport. She returns here to run a branch of the new Russian intelligence network and raise their daughter. Back in England Charlie is removed from active duty to train new spies. His first apprentice is arrested in Beijing (China's military intelligence having replaced the KGB as the men in black hats) while on an initial, deceptively simple assignment. Marred only by a slow opening, the novel features detailed, interesting characters (except for the Chinese), fascinating local color, and intricate plotting. Will Charlie rescue his hapless apprentice and restore himself in the eyes of his superiors? Will Natalia succeed in contacting Charlie to tell him he is a father? Freemantle is well on his way to earning a prominent place in the John le CarrÃ‰ school of spy fiction.