The new world order as family romance--this starring a Russian ÇmigrÇ's son who struggles to honor both of his parents while keeping a step ahead of the double agents on his trail. Deep in the Moscow vaults, a faceless bureaucrat rifles through the records of a crumbling empire and abstracts The Papers that will bring governments on both sides of the cold war crashing down--then takes off for London, where his plans to sell them are cut off by his death outside the home of the vanished Yekaterina Bell, whose son Edward promptly goes in search of her--and, he hopes, his father, a mathematician who long ago disappeared back inside the USSR and was reported dead. ``Russians, Americans, British--they all wanted a chat with Mother, and therefore a chat with me too,'' says Bell, who's suddenly getting a lot more attention than he'd like. Routine cloak- and-dagger stuff so far; but Bell looking for his parents (in Paris, Berlin, and inevitably Moscow) is like Achilles chasing the tortoise: the closer he gets, the more they seem to recede from him in a welter of flashbacks. We see Bell years past picking up rumors that his father is still alive; Bell reminiscing about contacts and go-betweens who keep turning up dead; Bell getting recruited during a student trip to Russia by his treacherous teacher/lover Irina Semyonova, who gives him a painful glimpse of his cancer-stricken father and whispers about the drug therapy his cooperation can buy. In the end, thanks to an unsurprising final revelation, Bell will have to choose between his two parents and live with the consequences of the quest he'd been so eager to undertake. As densely, dourly textured as Saviour's Gate (1991) and The Memory Church (1992)--the gloomiest possible view of the ``rapprochement'' between East and West.