cover image Cover Story

Cover Story

Robert Cullen. Atheneum Books, $20 (312pp) ISBN 978-0-689-12198-2

A report of possible Syrian nuclear capability sends Colin Burke, the Moscow correspondent for America Weekly introduced in Soviet Sources , in search of a mysterious Middle Eastern businessman who may be hiring Russian atomic scientists. Also interested are the Israelis, represented by a beautiful Mossad agent, and the KGB. A prostitute leads Burke to a Russian scientist heading ``West.'' The prostitute is murdered; Burke is briefly jailed; the scientist disappears; and, when the dust clears, the bad guys are the official good guys. Cullen, Newsweek 's Moscow bureau chief in the mid-1980s, knows Moscow cold and offers a terrific tour of post-Soviet Russia and an insider's view of the newsmagazine biz. The Russian characters are vivid and believable, notably a crusty old Russian Army officer and a tough young woman working any street scam she can. Burke's awareness of his alcoholism may surface abruptly, but he's bright and appealingly scruffy--Moscow is ``the only town in the world where the natives made him look dapper.'' Readers will turn pages to the slightly forced ending. Film rights optioned by Alan Pakula. (June)