DANGEROUS GAMES.Susan Crosland.Random House.294 pages...

BOOK BRIEFS

June 28, 1992|By SUSANNE TROWBRIDGE BENEVOLENCE AND BETRAYAL. Alexander Stille. Summit. 365 pages. $25.

DANGEROUS GAMES.

Susan Crosland.

Random House.

294 pages. $20. Georgie Chase, the glamorous editor of a weekly newsmagazine, and her husband, Hugo Carroll, an influential political columnist, are one of America's top Power Couples, invited to every A-list party. Their best friends are equally prominent across the Atlantic -- Ian Lonsdale, a British Cabinet minister, and his wife Patsy, a best-selling children's book author.

Ian, however, is having an affair with a young Irish woman who may or may not be involved with the IRA. And Hugo, lonely during the long nights apart from Georgie (she lives in New York, he in Washington), begins a torrid romance with a beautiful and ambitious young lobbyist named Lisa Tabor. Lisa works for Jock Liddon, Washington's most powerful influence peddler, and she desires only to make it to the top -- even if she must use her body.

There aren't a lot of surprises in the novel "Dangerous Games," since Baltimore-born Susan Crosland telegraphs just about every plot twist (honestly, could any reader fail to guess that Hugo's vicious twin Dobermans would be trouble later on?). The characters are all so unappealing, from the hard-hearted Georgie to sleazy Lisa and the thoroughly unprincipled Jock, that it's difficult to care about their fates. Even worse, the passages in which Ms. Crosland lovingly describes clothes and furniture have a lot more gusto than any of the sex scenes.

Because of their presence in Italy for more than 2,000 years, and their active participation in Mussolini's fascist regime, Jews in that country could not believe the changes that occurred from 1938 to 1945. Although only one in seven Jews was deported after Italy's surrender, all were made to endure life-threatening hardships.

The contrast in how most Italians treated them, as compared to the German soldiers, is emphasized. The Germans herded Jews into confinement upon their discovery, but most Italians saw Jews as no different from themselves. Jews spoke "the local dialect of the city or town in which they lived," and many were highly regarded leaders in their communities.

Documented yet highly readable, "Benevolence and Betrayal" tells about five of these families. The author's introduction allows each story to stand on its own, and the epilogue fills in the reader on the present status of the players in each story. It makes for good reading -- and a victory in the "battle of memory against the forces of oblivion."

ANGELO C. GILLI SR.

EVEN BROOK TROUT GET THE BLUES.

John Gierach.

Simon & Schuster.

223 pages. $20.

There aren't many more effective ways to clear the room at a party than to put together a couple of fishing fanatics. And if they happen to be fly-fishermen, talking about #26 Midges and Speckled Duns and such, you can just about be assured of an early night.

Fortunately, we have John Gierach, the veteran outdoors writer and trout bum (the latter actually is the title of one of his earlier books), to counter the image of trout fishermen as effete and insufferable snobs. Though he is quite learned in his craft, Mr. Gierach takes a populist and curmudgeonly approach to fishing. He may be a trout bum, but he sees nothing wrong with going after such lowly fare as bluegills and the hideously ugly long-nosed gar.

This collection of articles abounds with Mr. Gierach's sardonic .. wit. He writes about a man who warned his fiancee: "I don't drink, take drugs, gamble or chase women, but I do fly-fish." Mr. Gierach adds: "Two years later the woman was heard to say, 'It sounded good at first, but now I wish he did some of those other things instead.' "

TIM WARREN

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