There's buoyant fun in Van Wormer's (Benedict Canyon, 1992, etc.) shrewd look at the publishing industry in which--after much splashing around--the little fish manages to swallow the big fish. Hillings & Hillings, the finest literary agency in New York, realizes it's under siege when L.A.-based entertainment megaglomerate International Communications Artists impounds their offices after a merger. Gentle, kind (and aged) Dorothy and Henry Hillings are agents from another era--they care about literature and authors--to whom this kind of corporate behavior is unthinkable and upsetting. When the shock of it gives Dorothy a heart attack, Henry takes her to their Long Island manse to recuperate. While she does, Henry and dowager author Millicent Parks prepare for a counterattack by alerting the agency's loyal clients. Authors race to New York from England, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New Jersey, forming a trusty band that swoops into action to defend the Hillingses from evil adversary Creighton Berns, ICA's new CEO. But Berns is a power broker who could damage the careers of several Hillings & Hillings clients with ties to the entertainment industry: Georgiana Hamilton-Ayres, a movie star who lived with the Hillingses as a child; David Aussenhoff, author turned playboy producer; Elizabeth Robinson, an academic who also appears on PBS; Patty Kleczak, suburban housewife and first-time novelist; and Montgomery Grant Smith, a fat but loveable conservative talk-radio personality. When not bickering and sleeping with one another, the plucky gang finds a little time to sleuth and spy on ICA; this is as much a comedy of manners as a thriller. The denouement may be of more interest to industry insiders than others, since it hinges on copyright law and subsidiary rights to an out-of-print book. A novel about warm agents who care and their loyal, altruistic authors: Shelve this as science fiction.