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Another of Egleton's rickety yet readable thrillers, this one combining the pseudo-history mode with a Le CarrÉ-ish web of internal spy suspicions. It's 1956, Eisenhower is up for re-election, and George Winter--second in command of Britain's SIS--has privately mounted a blackmail operation against Ike without telling the SIS chief. What is Winter up to? Well, he's certain the Israelis are about to launch a preemptive war against Egypt, thus leaving the Suez Canal open to seizure by British and French troops--a move which would draw an outcry from the US government. So Winter is out to manipulate things with a marvelously forged, re-election-killing package of letters and hotel receipts showing that Ike's affair with WAC driver Kay Summersby reflowered in 1952 and was consummated in a French hotel. And carrying the false evidence to the States and helping plant it with a US editor are agents Miles Abbott and James Hedley. But Winter has his problems: Hedley may be a double-agent; the Russians are onto his plan, egging it along (so they can penetrate Egypt); the CIA has a close watch on Hedley, as does an SIS colleague who wants to expose Winter; Winter's married mistress has cancer of the womb. And finally Janet Roscoe, heading the CIA's team, nabs Hedley and threatens him with a conviction for heroin smuggling if he doesn't hand over the Ike love letters, while Abbott is tortured to death by KGB heavies. Plus: a final shootout in a small Long Island town and Winter's discovery of the real mole on his team. Ultimately rather unsatisfying--the Ike gimmick is never effectively developed--but Winter's an appealing hero, the spy-chat crackles with bilious humor, and Le CarrÉ fans may find this an agreeably serviceable substitute for the real thing.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Atheneum