O'Neill brings back Giovanni Sidgewick Stears (Agents of Sympathy, The Secret Country) and lets him spend the entire book in Italy--in pursuit of terrorist kidnappers and the lost love of his youth. Fans will not be disappointed. The striptease continues. In addition to tantalizing peeks at ale Carrâ€šsque childhood, Stears--the worldly, romantic, half-Italian, American spy--is revealed to own a Jaguar that doesn't break down even in the Apennines and, as if that weren't enough, 20 years after he abandoned her he still apparently has the love of another half-Italian, the beautiful Princess Harrison-Farnese. Oh, and he might inherit a title. The reunion with the principessa comes as Stears forges a secret union with a carabinieri named Mascagni in order to sniff out a gang of Libyan-backed Italian terrorists bent on strangling Italy's ties with the US. The terrorists have already brutalized and murdered a very civilized American general and are ready to blow up an entire village, but Italian sovereign pride precludes overt cooperation with the Americans. Mascagni and Stears secretly use dogged police work to narrow down suspects as quickly as possible, but their field men meet bloody ends, and the identity of the only female terrorist becomes itself a terror for Stears. Full of excess, but it all works. Just like Italy. Stears gets better and better.