It's 1982, Brezhnev is ailing, and the KGB has come up with an elaborate plan to ensure the ascendancy of KGB-man Andropov--by embarrassing the GRU/Red Army faction and its most promising candidate for post-Brezhnev leadership. The primary victim of this not-very-plausible scheme: Major Georgi Kirov--son of an irascible old war-hero, still-bitter widower of lovely Tania (accidentally killed while fleeing a lecherous bureaucrat), dour GRU-man in Afghanistan, and semi-outcast. So Kirov is a little suspicious when he's suddenly acclaimed for his interrogation techniques (a set-up), called home, given special training--and a secret mission: in disguise as a Canadian businessman, Kirov must make his way to the US, where he's supposed to persuade the defector-kin of Grigory Romanov (a contender for the top Moscow job) to return home. Indeed, by the time he gets to London, Kirov is sure that the whole mission is a KGB frame-up--especially when his London GRU contact is murdered. Therefore, while continuing on to N.Y., he starts to depart from the precise plans, avoiding the traps (FBI men, etc.) waiting for him and turning for help (and, soon, love) to virtual stranger Elizabeth Moorcroft (a literary agent). Now, however, the KGB knows that Kirov knows--so they're out to kill him. And, after several N.Y.C. chases, he returns (largely for family-loyalty reasons) to relative safety in Russia. . . but is last seen hatching a scheme to leave Russia forever and reunite with Elizabeth. Slower-moving and less inventive than Egleton's better spy-knots (most recently, A Conflict of Interests)--with only a few ironic character-touches to enliven the lackluster historical premise, the one-twist plot, and the routine action.