A spy thriller with an (acceptable) science-fiction twist, from the author of The Snow Gods (1985) and (with Clifford Irving) The Sleeping Spy (1981). Mind reading is the gimmick here. For years, the CIA has been underwriting the care and feeding of the one-in-a-million children born with Rauschner's Syndrome, a condition that leaves one able to read minds but dead by the age of 32. Except in Russia where it kills at 30. Ben Slade is a Rauschner victim who's just turned 30. He's in love with Nadia, an equally talented Russian working for the KGB. They meet at diplomatic affairs and international conferences and get into each other's heads while they're supposed to be scoping out the opposition. But their cerebral romance is threatened when they are assigned by the CIA and KGB to win for their respective agencies the mind of a peace-loving Scandinavian scientist who holds in his head the theory for ""biochips,"" teensy computer memories, possession of which would lead to world dominance. To get the secrets, Ben preys on the scientist's compulsion for gambling, and Nadia preys on his loneliness. It's such a disgusting assignment that the lovers decide to flee their controllers and live out their last days alone in Italy. But, what's this? They don't die! Could it be possible that the CIA has been lying? Better than it sounds. The mind reading is amusing and the mind readers are interesting. Clever and literate.