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British spymasters use high finance to bring low a villainous arms-dealer in another slick thriller from Davies (Nest of Vipers, 1994). Recruited by M16 after graduating from Oxford, drop-dead beauty Eva Cunningham proves a whiz at undercover work in the Far East. Playing her role too well, Eva becomes a heroin addict to infiltrate a drug ring run as a sideline by Robie Frazer, a wealthy English businessman whose stock in trade is selling secret weapons systems to China. When Frazer betrays a friend of Eva's to the Singapore police, she's brought in from the cold for detox. Four years on, vengeful Eva is summoned home again by the SIS for an all-out campaign against Frazer, who (mindful of Hong Kong's 1997 handover) is also sojourning in London. With help from fellow Oxonian Cassie Stewart, a lissome merchant banker who doesn't know her chum is on the intelligence game, Eva lures the corrupt taipan into a risky deal involving a Vietnamese diamond mine. She also beds him, to the consternation of her M16 controller, Andrew Stormont, whose brief is anti-proliferation. While Cassie sets up funding for what she believes is a legitimate project through the raffish Vancouver Stock Exchange, Eva and Frazer have at one another in the boardroom as well as boudoir. Eva's luck runs out when an assassin imported by Frazer to terminate a recalcitrant informant recognizes her as a former mule. Frazer whisks his faithless lover off to Hanoi, and Cassie follows hard on their heels. Having learned Frazer has a cunning plan to use ore samples to distribute narcotics, les girls find themselves in mortal peril. By no means overmatched, the resourceful Eva engineers a daring escape and returns to the scene of Frazer's crimes to even the score. An immensely entertaining fiscal thriller notable for its exotic venues, though one that draws precious few distinctions between the good guys and bad.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1996
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Doubleday