Year of the Fire Monkey

Chris Mullin, Author Random House (UK) $23.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-7011-3693-2
This fast-paced thriller blends sly humor and cynicism with a race against time. In the late '50s, a sleeper agent named Ari, once a lama-in-training, is positioned in Tibet by the CIA with the hope that he will one day have the opportunity to assassinate Chairman Mao. The operation flops and Ari has been long forgotten when, over a decade later, the Nixon administration is about to open diplomatic relations with Red China. A retiring spy suddenly remembers Ari and his mission, but Ari has never made contact and there seems no way to reach him and tell him of the change in policy. The frantic efforts to find and stop him are neatly cut with a lengthy flashback delineating the fate of the likable Ari and with the doings of Timothy Ogilvy, a British killer-for-hire with a unique moral code. Mullin ( A Very British Coup ) spins his promising premise into an altogether diverting yarn. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1991
Release date: 05/01/1991
Genre: Nonfiction
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