Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


Posts Tagged ‘Russian spy’

A DIVIDED SPY by Charles Cumming: Book Review

It is difficult to be a spy, or at least a former spy, these days.  The enmity was clear between the West and the Soviet Union during the Cold War; although those days are long over, deep suspicion remains on both sides.

A Divided Spy is like a tree with a lot of branches.  The branches may appear separate, but in fact they all come together to form the tree.  It’s only when you see the complete picture that it all makes sense.

Thomas Kell is still tenuously connected to the SIS, the Secret Intelligence Service.  He has given his life to the service, but he is now in disgrace due to several assignments that resulted in death and failure, including the one that ended with the assassination of his lover, Rachel.  His ex-wife Claire has told him frequently that his job was more important to him than his marriage, and he concedes that she is right.

Even as he acknowledges that he’s no longer a valued member of the Service, he continues, almost unconsciously, to see enemy agents trying to shove him in front of a moving train or listening to his phone calls or reading his emails.  He knows that the surveillance is probably all in his mind, but that doesn’t mean he’s stopped looking for it.

Thomas gets a call from a former colleague who tells him he’s seen the man whom Kell holds responsible for Rachel’s murder, a man Thomas has long been searching for.  Alexander Minasian has been a top Russian espionage agent for years, and Thomas believes that Minasian knowingly sent Rachel to her death in retribution for an act that Thomas committed.  Now that Alexander has been located, Thomas has his chance to make him pay.

The novel follows the incredibly complex business of espionage.  For every plan Kell makes, there are four or five that are considered and discarded.  First there’s murder, followed by blackmail, followed by detailed preparations to make certain that all goes according to his scheme.  He’s getting virtually no help from the SIS, which considers that his desire for revenge has overwhelmed his rational thought process.  A former colleague, Harold Mowbray, is the man who set all this in motion with his identification of Miasian.  But Kell wonders why he did so and if he can be trusted.

A Divided Spy is more than just a thriller.  It’s a deep look into what a life of lying and spying does to the agent.  As Thomas looks back on his life and its activities, he wonders if perhaps there are compromises that are simply more than the end object is worth.

You can read more about Charles Cumming at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.