Corporate and governmental espionage fuel this seventh thriller by an author better known for her historical novels (the Crawford of Lymond and House of Niccolo series)--a Keystone Kops tangle of pratfalls and missteps saved by sharp wit and clever dialogue. Miss Wendy Helmann, young executive secretary to the chairman of Kingsley Conglomerates, the home appliance giant, is sufficiently aware that A Company's Competitive Edge Depends Upon People to remain self-possessed when an exploding bomb at corporate headquarters--plus a portrait painter with a yen to visit Morocco--convinces her boss, Sir Robert Kingsley, temporarily to relocate his wheeling and dealing in the land of the kasbah. Sir Robert's efforts have been recently aimed toward the unfriendly takeover of MCG, a chain of beauty salons whose assets could help fund the research of Kingsley's newest acquisition: Mo Morgan, a research scientist whose skill with computers will someday revolutionize the washing-machine industry. To Wendy's and Sir Robert's surprise, MCG is onto Kingsley's efforts, having infiltrated Kingsley Conglomerates' infrastructure at least as thoroughly as Kingsley's has infiltrated theirs. But the question remains--as kidnappings, shootouts, shifting allegiances, and an unusual number of costume changes follow one after the other--who is really taking over whom? Is the redheaded MCG chairwoman, a former makeup artist, Kingsley's portrait painter's lover? Is the portrait painter a government agent or, perhaps, an Arab spy? Is Mo Morgan himself, who (it turns out) is an Arab, designing weapons systems instead of appliance controls, and if so, for whom? Confusion reigns as an exotic car rally, a Pan-African football championship, a vacationing group of Canadians, a kasbah teeming with veiled conspirators, and even Wendy's domineering mother horn in on the act, leaving the reader overwhelmed but, mercifully, amused. Unabashed slapstick--corporate style.