THE SALAMANDER by MORRIS WEST 355 pages. Morrow. $7.95.
A neo-Fascist Italian general is found stiff as a pillar in his Roman bed.
Assigned to tidy up the death, Colonel Dante Alighieri Matucci of the Service for Defense Information quickly wades waist-deep into a gooey pasta of conspiracy. What about the mysterious calling cardand the heraldic salamander inscribed on itfound under the general's bed? What if Matucci's own boss, the country's security chief, is actually part of a right-wing plot figureheaded by the dead general? What if a second apprentice tyrant is being groomed in the wings for a colpo di stato?