Absorbing, mostly sensible spy melodrama set in Russia and the States with a wonderfully throbbing question mark at the center. The question is: Why has Eric Garfield, the devoted aide of a Brooklyn assemblyman, been chosen by a defecting Russian intelligence bigwig to be his escort to the West when Garfield has no ties at all with the world of espionage and has never even heard of the dissident Colonel Petrov? What tie could possibly exist between them? Has it anything to do with Garfield's district being Brighton Beach, the home of thousands of Americanized Russian immigrants? As it happens, the tie (not to be revealed here) is compelling and gives the story a clout larger than the melodrama in which it's embedded. And for some reason the novel's main melodrama is encased in an even larger, uninspired frame about a KGB stooge running for president of the United States. In any event, Garfield refuses to go to Russia and so is kidnapped by the CIA, given a two-week training course and sent there quite against his will. Once in Moscow he makes a rendezvous with Colonel Petrov, who reveals the big secret about why Garfield was chosen for this dangerous mission. But when Colonel Petrov and Garfield make their break for the West, they discover that the CIA is no longer backing their escape and--after the colonel is killed--Garfield is on the run in a strange land. Ellis writes with easy immediacy about CIA training houses, KGB offices and the feel of life among Moscow officials. The climax during the US elections is a let-down, but, still, this is a respectable piece of spycraft.