cover image In the Red

In the Red

Clive Egleton. St. Martin's Press, $17.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-312-04677-4

In Egleton's latest, formulaic thriller ( Missing from the Record ), British intelligence agent Harry Freeland has been sent to Shanghai in 1949 to bring out another operative. As becomes increasingly apparent, however, Freeland seems to have a propensity for bringing bad luck to those around him while surviving himself; though the mission is bungled, Harry escapes. This does not go unnoticed by his superiors in London, who in 1952 send him to West Germany to recruit agents in the Cold War. While there, he discovers the whereabouts of the sadistic Gestapo officer who had directed Harry's torture during WW II, when Harry broke down and disclosed the identity of a French Resistance fighter, since then the subject of his guilt-ridden nightmares. The denouement occurs in the U.S., where Harry, now under serious suspicion of being a double agent, has been dispatched to keep an eye on someone who has been commissioned to watch him. Although Egleton succeeds in evoking the morally ambiguous atmosphere of the spy trade, the separate parts of Harry's story bear very little relationship to one another. One keeps waiting, in vain, for the plot to mesh. The ingredients are there--foreign intrigue, bloody action and a hint of sex. They just fail to connect. (Oct.)