By Suzanne Ruta
Updated December 04, 1992 at 05:00 AM EST

Writing well is the best revenge. When the prolific Howard Fast was blacklisted in the ’50s, he got even by publishing this skillful suspense novel under the pseudonym E.V. Cunningham. The hero is a private investigator paid to spy on a beautiful, mysterious young woman. He hates himself for doing it. Between the lines of Sylvia we read Fast’s contempt for ’50s political snooping and witch-hunts. The lines themselves add up to a mildly diverting pastiche of Raymond Chandler, but with a didactic happy ending that gives the roman noir a moral twist. B

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