The Blue Gate of Babylon

Paul Pickering, Author Random House (NY) $18.95 (289p) ISBN 978-0-394-57637-4
British journalist Pickering ( Wild About Harry ) has come up with a sharp, unnerving variation on Cold War thrillers: a suspense novel whose outcome hinges on the precarious sanity of its protagonist. In 1961, young British spy-in-training Toby Jubb is booted out of his station in France and assigned to take over a brothel in West Berlin. Jubb's mission is to create an atmosphere of bacchanal that will lure an East German officer over the border and induce him to spill secrets. But Jubb, caught in a vaguely incestuous relationship with his mother and so obsessed with the excesses of ancient Babylon that he equates bordellos with the moral climate of that legendary city, may not be the ideal choice for this mission. As he reaches an unexpected crisis point, the novel lurches forward in time, and the last third of the narrative sustains more twists than it can reasonably bear. Still, this is a deftly written, imaginative thriller with a fresh set of preoccupations at its core. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
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