Michael Frayn is one of the sharper, younger English talents (The Tin Men, etc.) and this literate intrigue, performing at the top of the genre and providing a very in tourist view of Russia, is the nicest entertainment this side of the thaw. Paul Manning, on a research grant in Russia, and very out of sorts there in the gloomy confusion, discomfort and ""sad smells"" of the U.S.S.R., is approached by one Gordon Proctor-Gould. He needs an interpreter. Even though what he's doing is hard to interpret--he deals in pictures, musical instruments, and ""people""-- a vague sort of cultural good will program. He also appropriates Raya, a lovely blonde whom Manning has recently acquired, and Raya moves into Proctor-Gould's rooms, litters them with her belongings, then begins to pinch and sell his Nescafe and his books. In spite of P-G's previous assurances, Manning has been used and never knows quite what the game is until it's over. Neither will the reader since without a single device, this intrigue is full of quirky, quixotic surprises and it will catch your curiosity and convert it into admiration.