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A defecting KGB officer holds as a bargaining chip the Soviet Union's leading Star Wars scientist, forcing the superpowers to bid against each other for possession of the man and his secrets. National Public Radio commentator MacLeish also wrote The Man Who Wasn't There (1976) and Prince Ombra (1982). A brutal beginning in the frozen Soviet-Finnish border territory nicely sets the tone for a successful post-glasnost thriller that assumes, acceptably, continued military and political interest in a satellite defense system. The Red Army soldier who alone witnessed the apparent escape to Finland of a KGB major--accompanied by two other men whose faces the soldier would recognize--is forced to dig his own grave before he is shot. The men with the major were the wily Finnish smuggler from just across the fence and Gregor Abramovich Mandelbaum, the Jewish physicist who holds the keys to the Soviets' Star Wars system in his head. Mandelbaum has been trying for years to get to Israel to join his schizophrenic daughter, but the Soviets cannot afford to let him go. The embittered and cuckolded major, Kornilov, offered an alternative to official release, but treacherously diverted him to hostage. Now, the task for both sides is to find Mandelbaum before Kornilov's auction deadline. The American sleuth is 60-ish intelligence analyst Jake Yarrow, a brilliant man plagued by the absence of his artist wife. Good spy story. Good love story.

Pub Date: May 22nd, 1990
Publisher: Little, Brown