Twenty-five years ago in Cuba, Harry Francis played prankish games with Ernest Hemingway while working for the CIA. Now Harry lives and drinks on the Caribbean island of St. Michel, where rebels in the hills fight the government and where another former agent, Col. Ready, heads the army. Harry is rumored to have a notebook from his Cuba years that confirms the extent and stupidity of CIA involvement in the Bay of Pigs debacle. The CIA wants the notebook, as does R Section, a group set up by Kennedy in '61 to ``watch the watchers.'' Ready wants the notebook too, and flushes another ex-agent, code-named November, from hiding, coercing him into going after it. The CIA, arm-in-arm with organized crime, launches an invasion of St. Michel by paramilitary exiles. November finds the notebook; R Section watches. Using them all to his own ends, Ready is a master player. But so is November, who needs to outplay the opposition to save the woman he loves. Truth, fiction and history peel in layers. Grainger, author of The November Man, has been compared to le Carre, Ludlum and Fleming. But this lean, suspenseful tale, peopled with compelling characters, has a drive and signature all its own. January 15
Devereaux, an ex-CIA agent and one-time KGB target long since presumed dead, is actually hiding out in Switzerland. Discovered by Colonel Ready, another ex-CIA agent turned mercenary, Devereaux is blackmailed into joining the colonel on St. Michel, a Caribbean island which just happens to be overburdened with guerrillas in the hills, a mad president, and a bumbling local CIA agent. Colonel Ready runs the army and holds Devereaux's girlfriend as a hostage. There is so much rape, torture, murder, and general violence in this spy thriller that it actually gets in the way of the thin plot. The characters are equally thin and unappealing. Only for the largest fiction collections. Brian Alley, Sangamon State Univ. Lib., Springfield, Ill.