cover image Blood Money

Blood Money

Clive Egleton, Egleton. St. Martin's Press, $24.95 (496pp) ISBN 978-0-312-18540-4

The latest in Egleton's Peter Ashton series (A Lethal Involvement, etc.) about hugger-mugger in and around Britain's SIS is rich in character and energetically plotted, quick-cutting back and forth between England, Russia, Finland and America. In the jolting beginning, a British Intelligence safe house is blown in a big way: three agents are slaughtered and one disappears--along with a Cuban-American informant. Ashton's wife, Harriet, finds the bodies and is briefly a suspect, as are many others: Muslim extremists, Moscow Mafiozniki, Cuban drug dealers and a few plain nasty crooks. Readers will recognize some old favorites: the SIS chief right out of P.G. Wodehouse; Peter's steely ex-lover, determined to become the first female head of SIS; Peter's past and current nemesis, a brutal ex-KGB general; the stuffy Admin mandarin known as ""the officer in charge of paperclips."" Sometimes the intramural maneuvering is as much fun as the outside action. Egleton's dry powers of observation are as effective in describing the Director General's posh office as evoking a hole-in-the-wall beauty parlor. The plotting feels like a combination of John le Carre and Elmore Leonard: a bit over the top, maybe, but compulsive, propulsive reading nonetheless. (Aug.)