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Fiction

December 07, 1986|James Kaufmann

THE BORZOI CONTROL by Scott Ellis (St. Martin's: $16.95; 279 pp.). Why has an extremely high- ranking Soviet defector, Col. Anatoli Vasilevich Petrov, asked that Eric Garfield be his escort to a new life in the West? Garfield, while a politically adept adviser to a politician and a nice guy, is a nobody. Or so the CIA thinks. But you suspect otherwise, and you're right.

Garfield is pressed into government service, given a (suspension of disbelief defying) short course in Russian culture and language, self-defense, and other espionage-related skills, and packed off on a covert operation to the Soviet Union just before we learn the reason why. Of course. But then there are a few more twists to contend with, and before you know it, the novel's over. While "The Borzoi Control" is not entirely cliche free, Ellis pushes the action hard enough to make this a quite satisfying thriller. The ending (excepting the epilogue) is nice; the level of paranoia sufficient; the weapon/violence quotient proper, and the (genre) rhythm right. Keep Ellis under surveillance.

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