"It was brilliant," Strelski insisted as he ground out his cigar. "Hypnosis. We collected four hundred and thirty first-class English speakers who'd never been outside the country, drilled them in every detail of American life and then handpicked the cream for drug-assisted hypnosis. . . When we were finished with them, every one of them really believed that he or she was the American whose papers he or she carried. We sent them off, and every single one of them got through." What could link an automobile mechanic in Denver, a beautician in Augusta, and a charter pilot in Lac du Flambeau? Each is unknowingly among 150 deep-cover Soviet agents smuggled into this country at the height of the Cold War. Each, beneath his peaceful, ordinary manner, is ready to be activated on a mission of horrible violence by a codeword delivered in a phone call. The key to these agents- their identities, code names, and missions- is the telefon book, which Dalchimski, a disgruntled Stalinsit of K.G.B, keeps in his hands. In a fateful game of phone calls that could provoke World War III, Dalchimski's twisted mind finds revenge and relief. Attempting to forestall Dalchimski before the CIA and the FBI discover that the string of seemingly unrelated acts of sabotage reflects some hostile pattern, the KGB dispatches one of their top agents, American specialist Grigori Tabbat, with orders to find and kill the deranged Dalchimski. Secretly entering the United States via the beach at East Hampton on July 3rd - clad in scuba gear -Tabbat, wit the help of another KGB agent, the beautiful "Barbi," sets out to track down his maniacal ex-colleague. From Las Vegas to the Berkshires, from Kansas to West Virginia, the crescendo of violence mounts. While Tabbat tries to make a desperate guess as to where Dalchimski's telephone calls will strike next, this fast-paced cloak and dagger story is capped by a spectacular ending that give the narrative an extra measure of irony.
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