GORDON WILLIAMS has already established himself as an interesting novelist. He is the author of The Man Who Had Power Over Women and The Siege of Trencher's Farm, which was filmed as Straw Dogs. Now, with Pomeroy, the first of three novels featuring the same roguish central character, he should attract even more attention.

John Stockley Pomeroy is a "hero" who should appeal strongly to lovers of such literary adventurers as Harry Flashman and Fletch. In addition, the book has the special appeal of being set in 1903, with attendant period interest which Williams carries off with grace.

Our hero has heroic qualities indeed, but most of them are more dubious than distinguished. Following an Alaskan escapade in his past, he is still wanted on a murder charge in Skagway. He is handy, and inventive, with both women and cards, and handier still at making hairbreadth escapes when trouble catches up with him. The one time he doesn't escape results in his being entertained by President Theodore Roosevelt and recruited as a spy by the United States' newly formed Secret Service. Before he can catch his breath, he is on board a luxury liner to England and deeply embroiled with cardsharps, German spies, and a beautiful woman, none of whom are quite what they seem. And this is only the start.

The official job he is sent to England to carry out "calls for a man who can lie, cheat, swindle and maybe even blackmail," Pomeroy is told, "only this time you'll be doing it for your country." For that kind of work, Pomeroy's the boy. Established in turn-of-the-century London as a minor American consular official, he instantly finds himself taking part in "a different kind of war," one that is "fought with smiles and lies over cognac in first-class comfort."

The reader will be in first-class comfort too with this colorful and entertaining novel, and his only disappointment will be that he has to wait for the next two novels chronicling Pomeroy's further adventures.