BLOODLINES.Susan Conant.Doubleday Perfect Crime.271...

TC :

January 17, 1993|By SUSANNE TROWBRIDGE INSIDE THE CIA: REVEALING THE SECRETS OF THE WORLD'S MOST POWERFUL SPY AGENCY. | SUSANNE TROWBRIDGE INSIDE THE CIA: REVEALING THE SECRETS OF THE WORLD'S MOST POWERFUL SPY AGENCY.,LOS ANGELES TIMES FOR LOVE ALONE.

TC : BLOODLINES.

Susan Conant.

Doubleday Perfect Crime.

271 pages. $17.

Everyone knows that mysteries and cats go together, right? The popularity of Susan Conant's Dog Lovers' Mystery series proves there's also an audience for tales combining canines and crime. In her sixth novel, people may get murdered, but dogs are guaranteed a happy ending -- she says so in the first chapter. If a dog died, "I wouldn't want to hear about it," she declares, and "I wouldn't ask you to listen. Honest to God spelled backward."

Holly Winter, a writer for Dog's Life magazine, is "owned" by her two Alaskan malamutes, Rowdy and Kimi. She's also devoted to protecting the breed, so when a friend reports seeing a $l malamute puppy in a pet store, Holly is outraged. After all, pet stores usually buy their dogs from puppy mills, called "canine concentration camps" by the Humane Society. Shortly after Holly stops by the shop to check on the dog, the store's owner, Diane Sweet, is found dead; the ensuing investigation reveals Diane's ties to the seamy world of puppy mills.

Ms. Conant's earnest, chatty prose style can be irritatingly intrusive, but "Bloodlines" does contain a wealth of fascinating facts about showing, breeding and caring for dogs. And dedicated dog people will find themselves nodding in agreement when Holly talks about the "transcendent miracle" of the human-canine relationship: "Without us, there would be no dogs. Without them, we would be less human than we are now." Ronald Kessler.

Pocket Books.

274 pages. $23.

Disturbed by the threadbare way writers have used the CIA as a symbol both of Good (the fount of knowledge in Washington, a town built on knowing) and of Evil (the epitome of corruption in works by '60s writers), Ronald Kessler aims in these pages to offer a realistic, evenhanded overview of the agency.

As the first journalist to win in-depth interviews with CIA directors (including two "active directors," William Webster and Robert Gates), Mr. Kessler is generally successful, concisely summarizing the agency's short history. But his interview deal seems to have given his sources far too much leeway to fashion their own images. Like a tour guide who spirits us past too many closed doors on a supposedly "comprehensive" tour, Mr. Kessler makes much ado of revealing "classified information" that's not really vital (e.g., the actual number of CIA employees is 22,000, not the number most commonly cited, 17,000). Meanwhile, he fails to report many recent CIA controversies, such as Gary Sick's contention that CIA personnel, disillusioned with Jimmy Carter, helped arrange a deal with Iran to delay the release of the hostages. Still, this tour is never dull, especially since it features so much 007 gadgetry, from water-spraying silent drills to eavesdropping devices that work by zapping laser beams through windows. Ivana Trump.

Pocket Books.

532 pages. $22.

After a stellar career as a Czech skier, Katrinka Kovars skied to political freedom. Her notoriety put her in the social swirl of the ultra rich. Coveted because of her beauty, Katrinka had her choice of suitors, but first and foremost was shipping magnate Adam Graham. As she gained acceptance, Katrinka turned to a small group of extraordinary women for support during her journey through a thicket of problems. Her biggest obstacle to happiness was Adam's domineering mother.

The only reason "For Love Alone" was published was the author's name -- Ivana Trump. Considering the publicity received about her marital problems, Ms. Trump could have gotten a book published on her favorite recipes. Nothing in this turgid novel works; this slow-moving, overblown book never comes close to the high-gloss trash of, say, Judith Krantz. Recently, I saw a television advertisement with Ms. Trump touting a hair color treatment. Why not? She's more of an authority on hair color than the literary scene. "For Love Alone" certainly proves that point.

EILEEN POWER

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