Books: Our Parents' Business

FAMILY TRADE by James Carroll; Little, Brown; 417 pages; $14.95

No one has founded a Thriller-of-the-Week Club, but the raw material is certainly available. Rare is the seven-day stretch that does not yield up yet another fictional secret agent trying to foil yet another diabolical plot against civilization. The continuing popularity of espionage books should be no mystery. They offer vicarious thrills to the deskbound, the fantasy that a lone hero can triumph over institutionalized evil. Such tales also feed a widespread, heartfelt suspicion: the world cannot be this messy and dangerous by accident. Someone is plotting all this on purpose. The...

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