cover image High Jinx

High Jinx

William F. Buckley, JR.. Doubleday Books, $16.95 (261pp) ISBN 978-0-385-19443-3

Buckley's almostparfit knight Blackford Oakes is in England during 1954 at the start of the seventh story of his escapades. A joint British-American commando team parachutes into Albania to liberate the country but is immediately caught and killed. An ""album'' with pictures of the dead soldiers arrives at CIA headquarters in London, whereupon Blackford and his British allies set out to find out how Russian agents knew about the mission in advance. In time, suspicion centers on Engand's great scientist, a Nobel laureate, and his henchman since their days at Trinity College. Leaving Blackford for long stretches, the narrative focuses on Beria, head of the secret police in the USSR, and his efforts to manipulate events after Stalin's death. There is also agitation in Washington, where the Dulles brothers, President Eisenhower and others are disturbed by the possibility that Russia has cracked the code in which messages are exchanged between the U.S. and England. Buckley's ingenious plot and linguistic ballet show him in top form. Literary Guild dual main selection. (March)