A clever but unconvincing suspense novel from the author of four previous novels (Mainland, 1992, etc.). The son of a British father and an American mother, former presidential speechwriter Seymour ``Sam'' Gilchrist has settled in Provincetown, Mass., to write his story, ``a confession and an act of revenge.'' His father's death has freed him to pen this ``betrayal,'' and Gilchrist attributes his downfall to the feminine lure of Ruth Ritchie. Three years earlier, he left his marriage and his White House job to be with the Australian freelance journalist in London. Two years before that, Ritchie introduced him to Major Craig Marshall and a covert plan to topple the liberal British government that preceded Margaret Thatcher's. Ritchie and Marshall are convinced that Gilchrist is the only one who can tell this story and be believed. Gilchrist's father, Ronald Lefevre, headed the clandestine group known as Operation Monty Python, which disseminated lies about public figures believed to be responsible for the failure of strong government. Marshall's conviction that the group had gone too far caused him to leave the Army, and his life has since been slowly and quietly destroyed. At the same time, Gilchrist's personal motives are brought into question as he struggles to form a committed relationship with the elusive Ritchie and to confront his dying father. His loyalty to his mother was made clear when he took her surname after the divorce, but does Gilchrist hate his father enough to betray him? When Marshall is framed for a murder he didn't commit, Gilchrist's allegiance to his father and to Ruth, to England and the US, are tested. Although McCrum is an expert at both deceiving and enlightening the reader, the high stakes of both the political and filial dramas are never made plausible, and this intricate mystery falls flat.