Two or three dozen play-by-play bridge hands--framed with a sliver of a sillyspy plot and delivered in hunks of preciously wordy prose. Terence Kane, fanatical member of Washington, D.C.'s Congressional Duplicate Bridge Club, tells of the arrival of a mysterious new player: flashy, parrot-on-shoulder Capt. Diggery Piper, who soon beguiles three club players (including Terence) into joining him as a team for the Grand Nationals. But Terence is suspicious, does some sleuthing (""Stealthily, oh so stealthily, I stalked him from afar""), and witnesses odd disguises and assorted shady behavior--evidence, apparently, of a ring of military-intelligence traders tied into the bridge-tournament circuit. Leaden foolishness, with a predictably elaborate final twist--plus, along the way, self-conscious and long-winded displays of would-be erudition: ""For far too long during this Piper affair, I led the heedless, soporific existence against which Plato's Socrates, Voltaire's Candide, and Bellow's Charlie Citrine all warned us. . . . Yet sweet enlightenment came to me, reader. Not as it came to Paul, perhaps. . . . "" For excessively whimsical bridge fiends--possibly a treat; for anyone else--a non-book.