July 18, 2011 by wcobserver
Reviewed By Kelly Gass
The setting for this spy novel is in modern day London. It has the feel of cold war espionage.
A group of British intelligence agents who comprise the “Prime Minister’s private army” help a famous Russian writer, Alexander Kurbsky, defect from his Russian handlers. These handlers report directly to Putin. This defection looks like a win to the British and American spy organizations, but there is one problem. The Russians have set up the whole thing.
They are using Kurbsky as a double agent, in order to infiltrate British and American intelligence at the highest levels. And the lever they use on Kurbsky is his sister. She is reportedly being held in a Siberian labor camp. Kurbsky is told he can secure her release if he helps the Russians. So even though Kurbsky is pretty much sick of Putin and communist politics, he is willing to “deal with the devil” in order to secure his sister’s release.
Kurbsky is not only a famous writer. He is also a survivor. He was a soldier in the Afghanistan and Chechen wars. During those violent years, Alexander Kurbsky learned some very specialized skills. As soon as he is taken in under British protection, Kurbsky goes through a physical makeover so he can basically disappear by taking up a new identity. Kurbsky takes advantage of his rather anonymous status by using his skills to take out some really bad guys. His British handlers finally figure out Kurbsky’s sideline indiscretions, but cut him slack. After all, he rescues a high ranking American diplomat from a terrible fate instigated by one of Kurbsky’s old Russian handlers.
As the story progresses, Kurbsky’s loyalties start to change. He starts to sympathize with the West. This could be dangerous, especially with his sister’s life in the balance. He must decide whether he will continue to carry out his mission for the Russians or let the Brits, in on his secret.
Through his British handlers, Kurbsky finally finds out the shocking truth about his sister’s fate.
The author, Jack Higgins, is the principal pseudonym of UK novelist Harry Patterson. Patterson has written more than 60 novels, several being best sellers. Patterson has lived in England and Ireland. He currently resides in Jersey in the Channel Islands between France and Great Britain.
This is my first time reading Jack Higgins and I plan to read more of his books in the future. He was born in 1929, so this is another example of a great writer who is up in years. He still puts out about one book per year.