It is the third summer of perestroika. Barley Blair, London publisher, receives a smuggled document from Moscow. It contains technical information of overwhelming importance. But is it genuine? Is the author genuine? A plant? A madman?Blair, jazz-loving, drink-marinated, dishevelled, is hardly to the taste of the spymasters, yet he has to be used - sent to the Soviet Union to make contact. Katya, the Moscow intermediary, is beautiful, thoughtful, equally sceptical of all state ideology. Together, as the safe clichés of hostility disintegrate, they may represent the future - an idea that is anathema to the entrenched espionage professionals on both sides. THE RUSSIA HOUSE: a spy story, a love story, and a fable for our time.