Books: Bangs and Whimpers



309 pages. Houghton Mifflin. $8.95.

By nature of their trade, terrorists are hard to get to know. Ordinarily, they keep a low profile. When they do call attention to themselves, it is usually too late for their victims to strike up a lasting acquaintance. Fiction, on the whole, is a better place than real life to meet mad bombers—safer and, as The Family Arsenal demonstrates, more fun.

Not that Paul Theroux's seventh novel is a joyride, but it is old-fashioned entertainment in the mode perfected by Graham Greene. Theroux sets an odd quartet to housekeeping in seedy south...

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