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By Lawrence Block

The CIA, the FBI, the KGB, Interpol—not one of many world's optimum intelligence agencies is familiar with really what to make of Evan Michael Tanner. Is he a undercover agent, a mercenary, a footloose adventurer, or just a screwball sucker for hopeless causes?

(Actually he is slightly of all the above. Plus he by no means sleeps. Ever.)

One thing's evidently: Tanner's a real romantic, that is why he cannot refuse a distraught mom who begs him to rescue her misplaced, pure-as-driven-snow daughter. Phaedra Harrow (nee Deborah Horowitz) as soon as shared Tanner's condo yet no longer his mattress. And now the virginal beauty's been kidnapped through white slavers within the Afghan wilderness.

Finding Phaedra can be tricky adequate. Bringing her again alive and unmolested will be very unlikely. and primary Tanner should swim the English Channel, live to tell the tale trigger-happy Russian terrorists . . . and perhaps pull off a well timed assassination or two.

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Talbot was a red-faced man with uncommonly large ears. He sat at a rolltop desk dipping coins into a glass of clear liquid and wiping them on a soft rag. The solution, whatever it was, managed to turn the coins bright and silvery while staining the tips of our Mr. Talbot's fingers dark brown. "Carradine," he said. "Never met the gentleman, but I do recall the name. Late summer, I think. Don't believe he was here long. " I hadn't. He gave me a name and address and telephone number, and I thanked him.

I don't think much more would have happened anyway. The main idea had been to garner a little newspaper space - very little, sad to say. But the group had retained its esprit de corps, and the night before Easter the group was throwing a party to celebrate the end of winter. And the party itself was an unqualified success. The membership of the New York chapter of the Pan-Hellenic Friendship Society was present in full force. The founders of the committee bankrupted their respective restaurants to provide food and drink.

I locked the door behind her and listened to the hubbub outside while I got Mr. Hyphen properly trussed up. There was a substantial stuffed chair with molded wooden arms. I wrestled him into it and used a roll of picture-hanging wire to fasten him in place, his arms to the chair's arms, his feet to its legs, and the rest of him to the back and seat of it. I was in a hurry, and that sort of work isn't my favorite diversion anyway - I can't wrap a Christmas present properly, let alone a person. So I don't suppose I did the sort of job that would have left Houdini hamstrung, but that wasn't the idea.

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Tanner's Virgin by Lawrence Block


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