Yet another outing for tall, bumbling British spy Appleton Porter--this time ordered to seduce Russian chess-star Alicia Suvov during her visit to London. (Supposedly the videotape of this sexual encounter can be used to force her to defect.) Porter, posing as a small-town journalist, wins Alicia over during their initial tea/dinner encounters. But when he finds himself really falling for her, the tenderhearted spy is highly reluctant to seduce her on-camera: he finds various ways to stall, while disposing (non-lethally) of Alicia's quasi-boyfriend from America. And when Appleton does at last bed Alicia, supposedly out of camera range, he finds himself (as always) a dupe in the schemes of trickier minds than his. Despite a good start and some brighter prose than usual: overextended foolishness once again, even if less slapsticky than some of Appleton's silliest ventures.