Closer in character to Steps (its sexuality and violence) than anything Kosinski has done since, this is a vicious peepshow-parable about a world we reluctantly recognize now and then through the eyes of one of those distant narrators as cold as the frozen funds he's accumulated. He was once in the Service (of the U.S.), a Ruthenian-born academic with a mind like a memory bank in in a more hypersensitive body. With his assumed names, Tarden maintains several identifies and apartments and disguises in cities around the world. His missions take him everywhere but they are not as explicit as his self-appointed tasks: injecting a toxic substance in supermarket food containers which cause an epidemic or stealing the 18th century snuff boxes which will make him rich. More and more this voyeur-recorder (always looking for new carnal stimulation to which he's sometimes unequal) photographs his blatant sexual encounters until he's overcome by the "pointlessness" of it all and at the end he's alone with the debris of his existence as well as that which he observes all around him. The key is no doubt in the dosing words from Dostoevsky: "the world loves its abomination and does not wish to see it threatened. . . ." But what's to redeem it beyond Kosinski's curiosity-catching legerdemain and quick changes of invention? Even while Tarden is flashing backwards and forwards, the reader feels as if he's marking time.