Email this review


British Secret Intelligence Service versus Moscow Centre on ""an ever-fluid landscape, where fact and illusion merge--a kind of wilderness of mirrors. . ."" Indeed, this engrossing spy thriller is chock-a-block with mirrors mirroring mirrors, every fact reflecting a new fact, until the novel is four-fifths exposition about someone telling someone else who did what where when and why, with actual action scenes quite few and scattered. After SIS's embarrassing surplus of Russian moles, an ultratop-secret watchdog group is formed for sniffing out any further moles. These are The Disciples, headed by ""C,"" Director-General of SIS, also known as the Major. Little does the Major know that his current Operation Houdini, by which he hopes to smuggle defector Leonid Yuronov out of Geneva, is really a setup by Moscow Centre. The Yuronov in Geneva--mastermind behind the Star Wars weapons system which Russia will have operational in five years--is not even the real Yuronov. When Operation Houdini explodes in the Major's face, the PM fires the Major and brings in Guy Hammond as his temporary replacement. What went wrong with Houdini? Well, it goes back to Adrian Stanhope, an SIS officer who defected 10 years ago. Adrian had been well loved, abounding in friends, and secretly seducing all the staff members' wives one by one--including, ah!, Guy Hammond's Lorna. And he was also warming the soul of the Major's right-hand girl, Mrs. Joanna Henley. When aging, sex-shrunken Joanna hears that distant Adrian is in love--with a pregnant Vietnamese mistress one-third his age--her jealousy is boundless. Herself a mole of sorts (led into it twenty years ago by Adrian), she's been blackmailing the Major, an active homosexual, for high rank. Densely gripping with a strong final confrontation between Guy and Joanna. He pays off the slut in a way that hasn't been seen since the golden climaxes of Mickey Spillane.

Pub Date: June 3rd, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's