cover image The Endless Game

The Endless Game

Bryan Forbes. Random House (NY), $17.95 (309pp) ISBN 978-0-394-54849-4

In the shockingly sinister opening chapter of this stunning thriller, a cold-blooded killer-for-hire sneaks into a British nursing home and murders an elderly woman. The victim is Caroline Oates, a former member of British Intelligence whose premature senility has been caused by a particularly inhumane interrogation at the hands of the Russians years ago. Her murder raises the eyebrows of MI6 and stirs the long-dormant heartbeat of her former lover, agent Alec Hillsden. Hillsden tries to fathom the reason for Caroline's sudden murder, and the tables of friendship and loyalty turn on him several times before the end of his quest. Forbes is a powerful, smoothly professional writer and he seasons the tension in his novel with a diverting panoply of characters. He is particularly adept in chronicling his protagonist's growing cynicism and despair, and while he does not bring the same level of insight to his political subplots, this novel is a winner that doesn't let you go until the very last page. BOMC alternate. January 1