By Nisid Hajari
Updated August 06, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

In an intriguing fusion of subject and style, essayist Barbara Ehrenreich’s first novel, Kipper’s Game, splices a treatise on knowledge into a spooky-music intellectual thriller. The search for a missing son and his revolutionary computer game — the ultimate learning tool — draws together a delightfully thoughtful cast of characters, including a distraught mother, a self-flagellating scientist, and an ominous, violent pair of possibly Nazi cousins. The clinical remove from which Ehrenreich scratches atmosphere at times obscures her more penetrating riffs on academic infighting, spiritual longing, and middle-age anomie. Still, her eloquent prose more than matches the elegance of her characters’ engrossing theories. A-