A SPY AT TWILIGHT by Bryan Forbes

A SPY AT TWILIGHT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An elegiac sequel (published last year in England as A Song at Twilight) in which Alee Hillsden--the disillusioned British agent who ended The Endless Game (1985) tricked by his masters at MI6 into exile in Moscow--plots to get even by smuggling back a tell-all manuscript that brings disaster to everybody nearby. Hillsden hopes to fake out his watchdog, General Abramov, by blackmailing closeted tourist John Frampton into sending word of the manuscript to Hillsden's old colleague Bill Waddington--at the same time that Hillsden is pretending to recruit Frampton for Abramov. The plan succeeds, but only because it's meant to: when Waddington--back in England selling burglar-proofing and celebrating his recent seduction by impossibly rich, beautiful Pamela van Norden--hears from Frampton, he realizes that their meeting has been staked out and scrambles to protect Frampton and himself, but to no avail. Filmmaker/screenwriter Forbes (The Rewrite Man, Stranger, etc.) endows his heroes with the constant sense that they're pawns in some plot they don't understand: Waddington, capping a ritzy lunch with his much more successful old crony Keating by accepting a cigar he can't even keep lit, still wonders why he was invited out--and no wonder, since virtually everyone from Prime Minister Toby Bayldon to Sir Raymond Lockfield (""Control""), Director General of the Foreign Office, seems to be in Moscow's pay, even though none of them can figure out why anybody would have killed a transvestite cryptologist named Mitchell and booby-trapped his body to blow up two policemen. Too many of Forbes' subplots (including an absurdly gratuitous hijacking that Pamela gets caught in) begin with much fanfare before petering out, but his acrid, urbane tone powerfully evokes a lockstep world in which everybody knows too much--even though nobody really knows a thing.

Pub Date: July 6th, 1990
Publisher: Random House