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In his best book since The Mills Bomb (1978), veteran suspense-writer Egleton builds a sturdy, not-too-tricky tale out of one of espionage fiction's most reliable ""conflicts of interest"": the conflict between policemen and spies when a murder case has Intelligence ramifications. Good-looking boutique owner Karen Whit field has been shot to death in her bedroom--so rugged, divorced Inspector Coghill starts investigating, slowly learning that Karen was a high-class prostitute who was apparently blackmailing her notable clients with scandalous videotapes. What Coghill doesn't know, however, is that British Intelligence has already solved the case: the killer is amoral ex-CIA agent Orville Patterson, hired by a Libyan attachÉ to recover the videotaped evidence of his sessions with Karen; and the Intelligence biggies want to manipulate the case for their own purposes--to turn the Libyan attachÉ into a double-agent, to trade Patterson to the CIA in exchange for an Intelligence-computer hookup. So, while stubborn Coghill and his assistants industriously sleuth, getting closer and closer to the elusive, alias-switching Patterson, the British spy-team (including young Caroline Brooke, rather appalled by all this) does its best to get in Coghill's way, even arranging for him to be suspended when he declines to back off from the case. Meanwhile, too, the ruthless Patterson is trying to sell Karen's videotape collection (British lawmakers and such on kinky display) to KGB agents. And finally, after fugitive Patterson has killed a few more people, including Coghill's hapless sergeant, spies and police converge. . . as Coghill reluctantly becomes part of an Intelligence plot to trap the killer in a phony-escape plan. Solid, ironic, three-layer suspense--even if the ending's a bit of a letdown, and the Coghill/Caroline romance (like other neat notions here) seems a bit underdeveloped.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1983
Publisher: Atheneum