The Janus Man

Colin Forbes, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $17.95 (427p) ISBN 978-0-15-146160-8

This novel was a bestseller in England, leading one to question current British standards for spy thrillers. British spymaster Tweed thinks one of his four European section chiefs is a double agent and possibly a sadistic mass murderer. Tweed treks to Germany, where one of his top agents was killed, obviously betrayed by the traitor. The Russians and East Germans, hoping to kill Tweed, lead him to Lubeck, home of mysterious philanthropist Dr. Berlin. Deliberately using himself as bait to flush the two-faced ""Janus,'' Tweed is saved from assassination in Lubeck only with the help of British agent Bob Newman. Eventually Tweed uncovers a Russian plotfostered by a tough-talking Gorbachevto flood England with heroin, which the Soviets assume will destroy the country. The interminable comings and goings of Tweed and Newman, one in England, the other in East Germany, are chronicled in clumsy prose, often like a bad translation (``She moved agilely but with grace.'') and unintentionally funny ``Cunning as a fox, Markus Wolf.''). The unlikely plot and pat solution are matched only by Tweed's phlegmatic dialogue: ``We can't afford the scandal. England can't. Mass murderer a senior chief in the SIS. Not on, Bob.'' Forbes wrote Cover Story and Terminal. (April)