BOOK REVIEW / In brief: A Responsible Man - Cynthia Kee: Chatto, pounds 13.99

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The Independent Culture
In this Cold War tale set in London, Victoria, a neurotic TV producer (Ms Kee's own professional background) meets childish Harold and gets embroiled in an improbable plot of espionage, kidnapping and defection. Bouts of squalid sex are interspersed with Victoria's scheduling rosters and diplomatic drinks parties. Trademarks abound - Viyella shirts, Chilprufe vests, Startrite shoes (to convince us of the Sixties setting). But Ms Kee's use of such journalistic shorthand is no substitute for fictional veracity and the characters remain stiff and vapid clothes-horses.