Gene Lyons
September 05, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Dateline: Moscow, 2015. Following a catastrophic civil war in Monstrum, a police investigator must endure plastic surgery to serve as a double for the victorious Nationalist leader, and, while he’s at it, track down the Monstrum, a Slavic Ted Bundy. Meanwhile, Constantin Vadim must uncover the whereabouts of his much lionized wife, the commander of an anarchist infantry division, and their young son. Elaborate subplots involve an orgiastic religious cult and the secret police. Veteran TV writer Donald James’ frenetic fifth novel may not fully engage readers, but it isn’t for lack of energy. B+

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