RIDE A PALE HORSE by Helen MacInnes
Kirkus Star


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This new MacInnes spy tangle begins with promising vigor--one starts hoping for action/suspense as cleanly crafted as Snare of the Hunter--but, like Cloak of Darkness and Prelude to Terror, it soon slides into talky confusion and meandering action. Magazine-journalist Karen Cornell, in Czechoslovakia to cover a conference, is secretly approached by a would-be defector, agent Josef Vasek--who proves his sincerity by handing her an example of his ""disinformation"" work (two faked letters from US officials, implicating them in international assassinationplans). . . and by hinting that he knows the identity of a Soviet mole in the CIA. Surviving various threats on her way home via Vienna, Karen gets to Washington and passes along the ""disinformation' (and her story) to CIA-man Peter Bristow--after which things slow down considerably. Which of several suspects is the real CIA mole? Could he be in cahoots with a leftwing journalist-colleague of Karen's? Why does someone want to abduct--or kill-Karen? (She's almost nabbed while reporting on terrorists in Italy.) Where is defector Vasek, who has indeed escaped from Czechoslovakia? Is he on the up-and-up--or is he a plant? And if the whole thing is a set-up, what is the ultimate goal of Vasek's convoluted scheme? All these questions circle around, but with none of the texture or genuine complexity of le CarrÉ & Co. Meanwhile, there are bursts of action--a terrorist bomb, a CIA agent's murder, tailings, eavesdroppings, showdowns with Vasek--but they don't generate any real tension. And the growing love-affair between journalist Karen (a recent widow) and CIA-man Peter is lukewarm even by sedate MacInnes standards. Only for the faithful following, then (who'll be disappointed by the skimpy scenery), though others will be drawn in by those deceptively energetic opening chapters.

Pub Date: Oct. 5th, 1984
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich