by Tamas Aczel. Little Brown,,$19.95. Mr. Aczel’s novel is set in the 1950s in an unnamed Eastern European country, but references to earlier social classifications and to “the admiral” indicate that the author is writing about his native Hungary. When the novel opens, the recently installed Prime Minister has invited three old associates to a hunting party at a splendid estate saved from proletarian utility for the pleasure of the Communist elite. The trio consists of Wulf, a disgraced general; Krolthy, the chief justice; and Beck, the ranking Catholic prelate. All three suspect that their host, who has not turned up, is, as usual, plotting mischief, but have no idea whether they are to be victims or accomplices. While they wait, each reviews his past and his surrender to the temptations of power, or status, or mere comfortable survival, none of which, under their totalitarian regime, can be acquired except at the price of corruption. Interweaving past and present, shifting from one character to another, leaping from reality to dream and hallucination, Mr. Aczel creates, most convincingly, fifty years of political and moral decay. It is a grim story, but it is admirably written and pulls the reader along with a steady tug of suspense.