Tokyo, 1971: Jerry Birch, a naive young US Army staff sergeant involved in top-classified electronics work, is approached by a Soviet agent; after accepting some fancy meals and a little cash in return for un-classified documents, he reports what's going on to military intelligence. . . who report it to the CIA. So minor spymaster Richard Harper, shakily recovering from a particularly ugly Vietnam case, is put in charge of the Birch matter--and Harper, soon realizing that innocent, open-faced Birch is a natural spy (able to outwit the lie detector), decides to use him as a double agent. Can Birch convince KGB Colonel Kerzhentseff that the US has new electronic equipment that will defeat the Soviets' latest coding device? So it seems--though Birch will suffer an interrogation-ordeal, marital upsets, and considerable angst while holding up under the pressure of being a double-agent. And the operation is considered a success, with Birch retired from spy duty. But now it's 1978, in Washington, and CIA-man Harper, out on assignment with the FBI, happens to spot a clandestine meeting between Col. Kerzhentseff and Birch! Furthermore, Birch, under interrogation, claims that he was ordered to re-establish the KGB connection by Harper--or at least by someone who knew Harper's code-word! So: what's going on? Is Birch a traitor? Or Harper? And was the KGB outsmarting the CIA all along? Well, Harper will manage to wrap things up with comforting neatness, thanks to Birch's suicide and a dubious theory--but the narrator of this slow but unusually intelligent thriller (a nameless, aphoristically inclined CIA veteran who has always distrusted the too-sensitive Harper) remains unconvinced. First-novelist Fuller, an editor/reporter for the Chicago Tribune, emphasizes the psychological wear-and-tear involved in the spy game here, the various shades of corruption and amorality. And though the detached, non-participatory narration sometimes results in a lack of focused involvement, espionage readers who prefer quiet, subtle tensions to convoluted action will find this a welcome addition to the CIA shelf: thoughtful, literate, yet unpretentious and un-pious--with gravely witty dialogue (and echoes of some real-life cases) spicing up the generally somber proceedings.