Books: A Critic's Choice

THE VENETIAN AFFAIR by Helen MacInnes. 405 pages. Harcourt, Brace & World. $5.95.

There are moments in The Venetian Affair when the Piazza di San Marco teems with so many international cads and American gumshoes that there is hardly room for the tourists and the pigeons. But who cares? The movements of any first-rate thriller are as measured and predictable as the steps of a quadrille. Half the fun is knowing what is bound to happen next.

Affair begins, for instance, with a New York drama critic on a summer jaunt to Europe. As if by magic, Paris customs men switch his...

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