Splendid follow-up to this spring's A Lethal Vintage, again featuring London wine merchant William Warner, his French-bred wife Claudine, and a wit and fluency that would have been much appreciated at the Algonquin's round table. Someone wants Warner dead, for reasons he can't even imagine. First, a sniper has a go at him; then, an intruder wielding a knife. Next, he's tailed by Bulky Jacket and Thin Face to his cottage in Wales, where he turns tables and waylays them--only to learn they were hired by Walter Loewenfeld, the manager of Protoplastics, a factory doing hush-hush work for the Ministry of Defense. Trying to make sense of it all, William phones old friend Edward Dundas, who does something or other (William's not quite sure what) for the Ministry, and asks him to reconnoiter. Dundas turns him down, them rings him up suggesting he meets Loewenfeld at his chateau in Burgundy. Meanwhile, anxious to spare wife Claudine any danger, William, a tad callously, engages his mistress Ginny as his confidante and helper in sorting through the perils. Between them, they come up with this: That plant is manufacturing nerve gas, which, should nuclear disarmament go through, will then reside in certain strategically aimed warheads. The connection to Warner is tenuous, at best (basic training at the plant site), but with Dundas unwilling to help, it's the only thing they can imagine--so Warner's off to France, where he picks up an oddball femme, who quickly tries to kill him, with the alit of her thug lover, under Loewenfeld's orders. Warner survives, heads for a family vacation home in the countryside, and waits for the mastermind to arrive; this time he escapes with his life--thanks to his wife, who finally has been alerted to the dangers by mistress Ginny. Martini-dry sophistication coupled with taut suspense. Warner, soon to be a BBC hero, is the most appealingly chauvinistic protagonist since 007.