Books: Why Spy?

THE INNOCENT by Ian McEwan

Doubleday; 271 pages; $18.95

For the past several months, readers and publishers have been mourning the end of the cold war. Fine for the future of mankind, of course, but it means curtains for that sturdy subindustry, the espionage thriller. Goodbye to the Berlin Wall? A bitter thought. And what of double agents? No one still believes their entrapments occurring in the Middle East, where messages are not coded but exploded.

The Innocent may be remembered not only as deft, taut fiction, but also as the book that showed the way out of the quagmire of...

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