Friday, 22 July 2011


Genre:  Thriller
Published by:  Simon & Schuster (July 2011)
Pages:  543  (Hardback)
Source:  BookDagger RealReaders
My Rating:  8/10

About the Book:

Former Soviet Secret Service agent Leo Demidov has built himself a new life as a civilian with his wife Raisa, and their two teenage daughters, Elena and Zoya. The Soviet Union is a country trying to reassert itself after the murderous excesses of Stalin and the chaos of the following years, and as the Cold War continues powers inside Russia seek to topple their great enemy, the United States of America. Communist allies within the United States will prove vital players in this game of intrigue and revolution. Raisa and their two daughters travel to the United States on a diplomatic mission, but a horrifying tragedy destroys everything Leo and Raisa have built. Leo must get to the States somehow and find out what happened. Exiled from the Soviet Union and separated from his family, Leo's quest takes him through the stark wilderness of Afghanistan, reawakening all his old instincts and forcing him to confront his demons. But whatever it costs, wherever he must go, he will find Agent 6. 

Set in 1965 onwards, this is the final instalment in the story of Russian secret agent Leo Demidov, following on from Child 44 and The Secret Speech, neither of which I’ve read.  I didn’t feel that I needed to in order to understand Leo’s past life as early on we are given an insight into the brutal regime in 1950’s Soviet Union.

Leo is no longer an agent, he has a mundane job and is now married to Raisa.  When she and her two daughters are invited to New York as part of a delegation of students performing concerts to improve relations between the two countries Leo has to stay at home and worry....... with good reason!  As something terrible happens there that will change all their lives forever.

The slow build up to that terrible event was incredibly gripping, you knew something was going to happen but you had no idea what it was.

We next meet Leo 8 years later as he is shot and badly wounded trying to cross the Russian border into Finland …............  he is desperate to leave the Soviet Union and get to the USA for revenge.

The story then jumps to 7 years later in 1980 in Kabul, Afghanistan where Leo is a soviet advisor providing counsel to the Afghan communist regime. Doing a job no KGB officer wanted.  He is disillusioned, addicted to opium and the USA seems further away than ever.  He just lives for the night-time when he can forget everything and fill his body with the opiate.

I did feel that some of the writing dragged a little here and I found it hard-going for a while until the action picked up again.

I had a lot of sympathy for Leo, I think that deep down he was a good man, the drugs helped to block out the reality of his situation as he couldn’t find a way out of his sad and lonely life, and he had forgotten what his goals and incentives in life were.

Since returning from the arrest of the deserting officer, Leo had smoked for several hours in an attempt to suppress an almost unbearable sense of restlessness.  Listening to the plans hatched by the two lovers hoping to embark on an impossible journey reminded him ........ of his own thwarted ambitions to reach New York
I enjoyed the writing style, it flowed very easily and apart from the few chapters in the middle, I was engrossed in the story.  I look forward to Tom Rob Smith’s next book, his website can be found here

Thank you to BookDagger RealReaders for my copy of this book.

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