It is the summer of 1917 and, as every Frenchman knows, the crushing stalemate on the Western Front can be traced directly to the ""ineluctable vulva"" of Mata Hari, the infamous nude dancer from Holland and Java whose erotic wiles have fed the highest army secrets to the Boche. So outside the Palace of Justice crowds roar for the blood of the spy-whore. Even her old lover Leclerc, whose early newspaper stories boosted her into international notoriety, appears to have deserted her. The only one on her side is 80-year-old lawyer Clunet, whose star rose when he defended Dreyfus 15 years ago and who has come out of retirement to save this vilified woman--who has nothing to wear to her trial but red satin and white ermine. Yes, Mata Hari, the eye of the sun, is a creature of radiant animal awareness and, even in prison, thinks of herself as ""a firefly adrift in a lighthearted pandemonium."" And she is really innocent! She was a double agent for the French Deuxiâ€šme Bureau--but since this is a secret military trial, she decides that silence is her best weapon and that she will be released eventually by the country's topmost powers grateful for her silence. But she'll be ruthlessly betrayed--after flashbacks, shadows upon shadows of intrigue, and succulent sex with her latest lover (Major St. Reymont, blinded at the front). . . . Noble banalities pulse endlessly from Mata's tear-drenched heartstrings and drown whatever sense of realism this yucky pseudo-historical novel might have had. Bathos supreme.