Too bad that Wolk, who made a splendid spy debut in The Leopold Contract (1969) and still writes a strong page, has stuck himself with one of those hyperbolic, Biggest-Threat-Ever plot gimmicks. This one is a real albatross--a ""nonadmitted war"" against the U.S., or so it's dubbed by freelance husband-and-wife agent team Tom and Marcia Pauling. They've been inveigled into investigating ""something so rotten the stench will knock the CIA right out of the government"": a CIA psychological research center in Cambridge, Mass., has been ""turned around"" by a Crazy Villain and is being used to train agents to be robot-like, pain-resistant, programmed enemy agents. And these robots are the ones who've been blowing up oil refineries, fomenting racial riots, aiding the SLA, depressing the stock market, and waging this ""nonadmitted war."" But even after Tom snares the Crazy Villain and saves Marcia (she's been nabbed by the robots), he still can't tell the President just which foreign power was behind the whole thing--so a sequel seems to be in the works. Talented Mr. Wolk should think twice about that, get rid of Tom and Marcia, and go back to the life-sized spy dramas that pack the biggest punches.