New spy fiction ranges from silly to exciting

Lie Down With Lions, by Ken Follett. New York: William Morrow & Co. Inc. 333 pp. $18.95. Englishwoman Jane Lambert is a romantic who falls out of love with an American, Ellis Thaler, when she finds out he is a CIA agent. She falls in love with Jean-Pierre Debout, a French doctor, marries him, goes to Afghanistan with him to provide medical care for Afghan guerrillas and their families, and bears a daughter.

Jane falls out of love with Jean-Pierre when she discovers that he is a KGB agent spying on the very people he is treating, and falls in love with Ellis again when he turns up in their village looking for Masud, an Afghan rebel leader.

That's the gist of the plot of ``Lie Down With Lions,'' and if it sounds a little silly, that's because it is. But it's also interesting (Follett provides lots of information on Afghan life) and very exciting when Jane, Ellis, and the baby make a harrowing journey across the mountains with Jean-Pierre and the Soviet Army in pursuit. The novel is marred by an explicit and completely gratuitous sex scene, and it doesn't begin to compare with Follett's first and best thriller, ``Eye of the Needle.'' Hemingway's Notebook, by Bill Granger. New York: Crown Publishers Inc. 248 pp. $15.95.

Devereaux, code-named ``November,'' an agent with an American intelligence agency called ``R'' Section, is back in his sixth novel. Devereaux's death was faked in ``The Zurich Numbers,'' and he and his lover, a beautiful reporter named Rita Macklin, have been living happily in Switzerland. An old enemy, Colonel Ready, a former CIA agent, is now head of the Army on the tiny Caribbean island of St. Michel. He blackmails Devereaux and takes Rita hostage to force Devereaux to find a notebook belonging to an ex-CIA agent and former crony of Ernest Hemingway that contains information about CIA involvement in the Bay of Pigs fiasco. This novel is fast-moving, action-packed, violent, and ultimately very satisfying because of the way in which Devereaux exposes the truth and turns the tables on his enemies in order to protect himself and the woman he loves.

After 10 years at CBS Inc., Jane Stewart Spitzer now reviews popular fiction for the Monitor.

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