cover image Roman Circus

Roman Circus

Frank O'Neill / Author Simon & Schuster $19.45 (318p) ISBN 978

A CIA operator goes up against a team of Italian and Libyan terrorists in this by-the-numbers suspense novel from the author of The Secret Country. When an American general is kidnapped and brutally assassinated, the culprits appear to belong to a quasi-Red Brigade consortium, and Giovanni Sidgewick Stears, an intelligence man known for his understanding of Italian culture, is called in. But Stears, estranged from his wife and in love with the local princess, doesn't count on the fact that his Libyan nemesis is always one step ahead of his pursuers--nor does he realize that his inamorata is intimately connected to those who like to dabble in what one character calls the ``sublimity of purple political theater.'' O'Neill's often clever plot functions far more efficiently than his prose, which runs from the awkward (``Amos Jones, the technician . . . was studying for a technical exam'') to the jarring (``Happily, blood was not on the gear lever''). BOMC and Mysterious Book Club alternates. (Jan.)