Books: Pasteboard Parable

PROTEUS

by Morris West Morrow; 324 pages; $9.95

In the tiny group of consistently best-selling novelists, Morris West qualifies as the brains of the organization. That will give you, as Groucho Marx used to say, some idea of the organization. Still, West's popular fictions, like The Devil's Advocate, have regularly favored byplay over foreplay, concepts over jet-set conceits. Rather, than reading the public mind, West has specialized in suggesting what it ought to be thinking.

This time his premise is grim and all too true. Innocent people are being kidnaped or blown up by...

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