cover image EDEN'S GATE


David Hagberg, . . Forge, $24.95 (301pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86129-2

This latest thriller by David Hagberg (aka Sean Flannery) is the fourth in the Bill Lane series. This time, intrepid secret agent man William Lane (just think "Rocky the Flying Squirrel") and his ever lovely wife and partner, Frances Shipley ("Bullwinkle" with a Brit accent), are on the trail of former East German secret policeman Helmut Speyer and his wife, Gloria Swanson (à la "Boris and Natasha"), who at the behest of secret organization strongman Thomas Mann have discovered a secret Nazi treasure trove submerged in a demolished bunker beneath a German lake. The sartorially splendid Lane, who never travels without his Pierre Cardins and Armanis, infiltrates Speyer's secret outfit and is immediately whisked to Germany, where his expertise as a diver allows him to recover the lost strongbox. He survives the sinking of a ship, and then returns to the U.S., where he foils the villainous plot with 11th-hour feats of derring-do that would shame James Bond. This is one of the goofiest thrillers to come out since the Three Stooges took on the Third Reich. There are enough aliases to fill a smalltown phone book, but readers needn't worry about keeping them straight, for as soon as a character is developed, either Lane or Speyer kills them off. Lane, the fashion-conscious hero, is gloriously over the top; the Germans are replicas of fish-eyed Nazis in East German drag; the women are sexy, beautiful and expert at everything; the politicians, military and honest cops are bungling idiots. For readers who like their thrillers with frills, this is catnip; those averse to blithe implausibility should look elsewhere. Major ad/promo. (June)