cover image The Property of a Lady

The Property of a Lady

Elizabeth Adler. Delacorte Press, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30123-7

From the author of Leonie and The Rich Shall Inherit comes this eventful novel of romantic intrigue, briskly plotted and well researched, centering on a fabulous emerald--a maharajah's gift to a Russian prince on the eve of the Revolution. Fleeing in 1917 with their gems, Princess Anouska Ivanoff, her children and their English guest Verity (``Missie'') Byron, 18, had been waylaid in a snowy wood by drunken Bolshevik peasants. Brutally raped, Anouska had died. her son Alexei was adopted by a kindly officer and raised as a Communist. Missie, however, took Anouska's daughter Xenia to America, became a Ziegfield girl and Hollywood star. Now white-haired, Missie lives in Maryland among her rich memories; her flashbacks eventually illuminate contemporary events. Meanwhile, three drinkers in a Geneva bar want to find the eponymous ``lady'' who put up the newly cut emerald at auction: Genie Reese, the Washington newswoman assigned to the story; likable Bronx-born politician Cal Warrender; and Communist Valentin Solovsky, elegant cultural attache to Washington, who is really Prince Ivanoff's descendant. But Valentin's malevolent half-brother Boris, head of the KGB, is bent on destroying Valentin and the mysterious lady. A boozy gem-cutter in Bangkok, a captive wife, a murderer in Dusseldorf add to the story's zesty cast, whose lives come together in its surprising conclusion. (Feb.)