cover image Death Throes

Death Throes

Clive Egleton. St. Martin's Press, $21.95 (361pp) ISBN 978-0-312-11774-0

Of hero Peter Ashton (A Killing in Moscow) a character intones, ``Last time [he] was in Moscow there was bloodshed all over the city.'' The 30-something British agent does attract more than his share of violence. On the trail of ``Valentin,'' a high-ranking officer (or officers) of the defunct KGB who may want to work for Britain's SIS, Ashton is beaten, in deadly peril more than once and involved in many killings. With the turning of a retired Red Army general and the capture of an English-born KGB hit man, our hero appears close to netting Valentin. But a believable twist lands Valentin near the top of the Kremlin heap and Ashton's further adventures are assured. His private life takes a turn, too, when his fiancee, Harriet Egan, wounded in a firefight, seems ready to quit the SIS, where her rising star is opposed to Ashton's career struggles. Egleton's latest thriller is filled with vivid detail: WWII history; the color of Moscow, Berlin and London; CIA-SIS rivalry; the rise of the Russian mafiozniki; the assassination of a neo-Nazi. But it is just exposition to place Valentin in or near power and prepare us for the next book. (Apr.)