Baker's atmospheric grace has sometimes eased his knotty plots along (Death and Variations, 1978), but this time the tangle for archaeologist/spy David Meynell is thoroughly turgid. Meynell is now on a visit to the U.S., stopping in to see former student Matt Kendrick--who's the son-in-law of industrialist Foster Durrell. In fact, Kendrick has stolen several works of art from Durrell and his associates (in a fit of misguided idealism), and Meynell arrives just in time for Kendrick to be murdered. The ensuing investigation involves: two 18th-century vases; the plane-crash death of a WW II general; a spate of killings, numerous transatlantic crossings; and--finally--so much confusion and absurdity that it takes a long, dull chapter at the end to explain exactly who-did-what-to-whom and why. Enough plot and mayhem for three books, but not enough solid characterization or smooth narrative strength for one.