Books: Thriller with a Moral

MISSING (249 pp.)—Egon Hostovsky —Viking ($3).

It is the eve of the Communist coup of 1948, and Paul Kral, journalist, wants to leave Czechoslovakia. His object is entirely personal: to visit an ailing friend in the U.S. The Communists in the Ministry of the Interior, more interested in politics than in friendship, cannot decide whether to let him go. For that matter, the U.S. consulate is puzzled over whether he ought to be allowed a visa.

Kral, says Moscow-trained Bureaucrat Matejka, is "a typical bourgeois liberal with leanings toward anarchism." Actually, what troubles Matejka is that Kral is not at all typical:...

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