A crude attempt to recreate the terror of biscuit heir Paolo Lazzaroni's 17-day kidnapping ordeal in 1977 and, at the same time, analyze Italian society. The story is told almost entirely in pulp-novel dialogue (""Why can't we live like other people? Why? . . . WHY?"" cries the police major's wife), quickly changing characters, and locales. Even less defensible is the analysis, which turns on Pepper's contention that the Mafia--who he says are responsible for 80% of Italy's kidnappings--""would never allow"" acts against the government, because that would arouse the leadership and cause them problems. If terrorists like the Red Brigades did attack Italian officials, Pepper says, the Mafia would try ""to save its own existence"" and ""secretly begin to destroy"" them. After the Moro kidnapping, no case.