Books: No Escape

THE FOURTH PROTOCOL by Frederick Forsyth Viking; 389 pages; $17.95

Reality is nasty stuff, tending as it does toward onrushing appointments for root-canal surgery and tuition bills. So it is extremely sad to report that one of the century's most dependable mechanisms for reality avoidance, the many-times-retold spy thriller whose gray secret is the mole in the British intelligence service, is in deep trouble. This is not really the fault of Frederick Forsyth, whose prose and plotting are no clunkier than those of other literary spy masters who borrowed the mole genre after John le Carré was through with it.

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