cover image A Matter of Honor

A Matter of Honor

John R. Maxim. Bantam, $5.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-29920-5

Super-agent/assassin Paul Bannerman returns from semi-retirement in suburbia to confront hoodlums exploiting the chaos in post-Soviet Russia. A gang of rogue KGB agents and cartoonishly brutal Russian mobsters aims to take advantage of the vacuum of authority through an arms-for-drugs-and-hard-currency scheme. Tired of seeing his troubled nation further weakened, KGB agent Leonid Belkin decides to import Bannerman and his uncanny talent for making trouble ``disappear.'' Belkin does this by inviting a former associate, Elena Brugg, to Moscow for a honeymoon with her new husband Raymond Lesko, who is Bannerman's father-in-law. Trouble ensues when Lesko is mistakenly pinned to the murder of one of the mobsters on the KGB payroll. Bannerman, the bad guys, and other KGB and CIA types flown in from around the globe eventually converge on Moscow, just in time for a gory free-for-all. Although a number of scenes convincingly evoke Russia's current malaise, Maxim's ( Bannerman's Law ) labor ultimately yields little more than a turgid, artlessly rendered techno-thriller in which many characters appear to do so much with so little reason. (Aug.)