Spanish novelist V†zquez Montalb†n takes on a conspiracy theory here--who was behind the abduction of Jesus de Gal°ndez, the Columbia University professor, once a Basque nationalist, then later a persistent nettle in the side of Dominican dictator Trujillo? A young Yale graduate student, Muriel Colbert, seeks to get at the truth--a search that the CIA is especially eager to foil. First, one unlikely CIA man, a fat poetry connoisseur named Robards, and then a second--an old Miami-based veteran of Realpolitik, Don Angelito Voltaire O'Shea Zarraluqui--work to coerce and contain Colbert and those who've encouraged her. The story shifts from Spain to New York to Santo Domingo to Miami--and at every venue, V†zquez Montalb†n paints a finely novelistic canvas of cynicism and lost illusion. And though it's clear that we are to feel that Colbert is one more victim of the US-designed plot to silence Gal°ndez, V†zquez Montalb†n's artistic skill (which comes through in the density and suppleness of his style, well-rendered by the Christensens) makes his antiheroes--the CIA guys--seem the more magnetic. The book is too rumpled, though, folded in on itself, with little room for air or horizontality. Impressive for its passion and cultural/political digestion--but slow to read, asking the reader for an equal degree of the monomania it itself runs on.