cover image Little Grey Mice

Little Grey Mice

Brian Freemantle, Brain Freemantle. St. Martin's Press, $21.95 (353pp) ISBN 978-0-312-07625-2

Although recent events have outrun its premise, this latest espionage thriller from a master storyteller still intrigues and satisfies. The KGB puts an East German agent in place to seduce the assistant of a West German Cabinet member and ply her for information that might be useful during the process of reunification. The assistant, middle-aged Elke Meyer, is a wonderfully real and sympathetic character; uptight and socially inept, she has never married but is burdened with an institutionalized autistic child, borne of her lone romantic fling. Equally well drawn are her would-be seducer, Otto Reimann, and his wife, Jutta, whose relationship changes unexpectedly due to his assignment. The arrogant Otto's slow and methodical seduction of his fragile prey is fascinating in its effectiveness, and horrifyingly malign. Elke's heart and mind are further strained as her sister's marriage crumbles and her superior, a married Cabinet minister, seems increasingly uninterested in keeping his wedding vows. Her attempts to incorporate these distractions and her newly awakened romantic needs into her orderly life are painfully real. But even false love--perhaps especially false love--bears consequences, which lead finally to Freemantle's surprising conclusion. (May)