Counterterrorism expert Steinberg (Nobody's Safe) imagines a time in the near future when the Chinese are counting down the final days of a silent coup d' tat: they aim to seize control of the U.S. by secreting a mole in the Oval Office. Modern-day superspy Gerald Goldman--aka Xenos Filotimo--is a former four-phase man, a vestigial breed of mythic CIA lone wolf trained to carry out all four skills of covert operations: intelligence-gathering, electronic warfare, counterintelligence and assassination. A decade after supposedly dying in an auto accident, Goldman is induced to come out from where he's hiding--on Corsica--to find his Corsican benefactor's brother, who is missing in New York. The trail inadvertently places Goldman in the middle of a blackmail-kidnapping involving the children of Valerie Alvarez, a congresswoman pursuing an inquiry that threatens to expose ""Apple Blossom""--the code name of the Chinese conspiracy. It becomes apparent to Goldman that ""Apple Blossom"" is run by Colin Meadows, the only other remaining four-phase man. Continent-hopping, machine-gun-popping brinksmanship ensues between these two former-compatriots-turned-bitter-rivals, representing good and evil, respectively. There is an overdone subplot about Goldman's long-lost relationship with his father (who disinherited him); this diversion and other corny philosophical passages, apparently intended to build empathy for Goldman, slow the narrative pace. Meanwhile, however, entertaining subplots summoning up the Chinese mastermind and the ambitious, preppy Washington traitors work well. And Steinberg fans will applaud the mano a mano ending. (Apr.) FYI: Steinberg's novel The Gemini Man is being developed for film by producer Steven Haft.