After a disastrous lapse (Agents of Influence, 1977), Harcourt returns with a reasonably diverting exercise in beleaguered diplomacy--even if it winds up once again with an evil Oriental conspiracy at the root of everything. Narrator Piers Tyburn of the British Embassy in Paris becomes the reluctant confidant of an Embassy colleague, an old school chum who believes that a high British official is being blackmailed. When the suspicious fellow falls(?) to his death from the Arc de Triomphe, it appears that he was blackmailee and therefore a suicide--until his wife and retarded son are shot by a mysterious Japanese duo. Ah, so--the Rengo Sekigun are at work, kidnapping the Ambassador's son and forcing the Ambassador to help them assassinate the prime ministers of France and England. Once unraveled, it's the same old story, but getting there involves a few spruce clues and some unassumingly engaging characters.