Books: Suitable for Framing

HARLEQUIN by MORRIS WEST 324 pages. Morrow. $7.95.

"The stem of the wineglass snapped in his fingers and the liquor spilled like blood on the white napery," Morris West reports at a tense moment in this thriller about international banking. The sentence tells most of what the prospective thrillee needs to know about Harlequin. Not very long after the invention of the novel, literature divided into two mighty streams, one in which wineglass-stem snapping during moments of tension was impermissible and another in which it was obligatory. Admirers of one stream do not go boating on the other.

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