Deep in the heart of Russia, a group of casually dressed young men are learning a different kind of lesson. The undergraduates sprawled around a game board aren't chilling out on campus: the young KGB agents attending the Charm School are brushing up on their American.
When a young tourist goes to the aid of a stranger on a dark Russian road, he is astonished to find a fellow American on the run. The man has been missing for over a decade, plucked from the jungles of Vietnam to become an unwilling tutor at the institution. Now his former students are poised to strike at the heart of America.
This highly charged espionage thriller gets off to a stunning start. On the road from Smolensk to Moscow, an American tourist, Gregory Fisher, is confronted by a man on the run: an Air Force major who was shot down over appears from his hotel and soon turns up dead, the victim of a suspicious car crash. Intelligence officer Sam Hollis, press attache Lisa Rhodes and CIA bureau chief Seth Alevy must discover for themselves what is going on at the Charm School. They must also decide whether public revelation of a horrifying KGB operation during the new era of glasnost might not damage American/Soviet relations. In this exciting, polemic novel, DeMille (Word of Honor) limns an authentic portrait of Russian society. He conveys the claustrophobic life of American Embassy officials impossibly restricted in movement, and he creates spirited American agents who dodge and spar wittily with coarse KGB men. Once DeMille brings readers into the Charm School itself, however, he cannot sustain the magic that has propelled the narrative for two-thirds of its generous length. At this point, the plot becomes predictable, and the finale differs little from standard adventure escapes, with a cruel resolution to boot. Still, it's riveting reading most of the way. 100,000 first printing; $150,000 ad/promo.