(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Colonel Edward James French is what the United States Army unofficially terms a certified “water walker.” At age forty, he is not only a full colonel but is also the ranking officer in charge of military intelligence for the United Kingdom, with a distinguished career behind him and the prospect of even greater honors in the future. Despite these accolades, French’s problems seem to grow larger by the day: His marriage of some twenty years is falling apart, he is obsessed with the memory of a recent operation which cost the life of one of his agents, and the wife of the ambassador is angry over what she sees as his unwarranted interference in her plans.

The ambassador’s wife is arranging a spectacular celebration on the Fourth of July and has invited every prominent Briton and American available to a garden party that promises to be the social event of the year. The party, however, is also an invitation to every terrorist organization in Europe to stage a media event which will make the 1972 massacre at the Munich Olympics pale into insignificance. To further complicate his problems, French must contend with the active interference of the Central Intelligence Agency station chief, who, for reasons of his own, wants the party to fail miserably and is determined that French should receive the blame. Moreover, despite the demands of providing security for the gala event, French must also deal with a host of personal and professional problems which in and of themselves make him an ideal candidate for a nervous breakdown. Fortunately, French is able to call upon the aid of his allies in British Intelligence, as well as the invaluable assistance of not only Israeli Intelligence but also the resident head of the Soviet apparatus in Great Britain.

Leslie Waller paints a realistic picture of life in an important embassy, while at the same time creating a series of fictional characters who are as real as people in tomorrow’s headlines. The action is nonstop and the suspense builds inexorably to an explosive climax in the ambassador’s living room. EMBASSY will be made into a television miniseries in 1987 and it is easy to see why.