I don’t get to read this genre very often as it is not one I would usually buy for myself so when a proof copy arrived in the post from Simon & Schuster (via BookDagger) to review I started reading with a mixture of trepidation and excitement. Trepidation because I am not a political person at all and wondered if this would affect my perception of the story and excitement at reading a different genre.
Although this is the third book involving agent Leo Demidov it was very obvious from the beginning that I didn’t have to have any previous knowledge. Leo’s character is very understandable from his actions – but there is also an inference that although he is following Communist doctrine, there are underlying doubts.
At the beginning of the story the foundations are laid for how life is in the Soviet Union. We meet American singer Jesse Austin who is a Communist and is a key figure to the plot.
Fifteen years later we join Leo, his wife Raisa and their two adopted daughters on the eve before Raisa and their two daughters are leaving for America. Raisa is leading a diplomatic mission using singing as a bridge between the two countries.
On American soil we are introduced to FBI agent Jim Yates who is another central figure to the plot.
The change of events is sudden and dramatic and what follows is Leo’s journey to reach America to avenge the tragedy. Along the way we spend time in Afghanistan until events conspire to get him back on track.
There are politics in the story but for me they were far outweighed by the psychological profiles of the characters we meet and the change in them as they examine their beliefs and become more humane. One of the major shocks for me was the power of the media – I’m not naïve and do know how it works – but this story brings it home how powerless people can become because they have enemies who are people in high-powered positions. I was also made to think about how a symbol in one country can mean something totally different in another and the strong emotions attached to that. Emotionally, family betrayals affected me quite powerfully.
The one thing I really want to happen in a story is that everything ties-up to a satisfactory conclusion (not necessarily a happy ending!). I loved it that a character central to the plot during the diplomatic mission appears later on – not just that the character makes an appearance! but does something that effects Leo’s emotions. Also, Leo’s actions on American soil left me feeling very satisfied. I loved it that an inconsequential personal possession in Russia became key to finding Agent 6 in America.
This is a story of political intrigue focussing on humanity and emotions. The main theme running through the story is Leo’s over-riding and unconditional love for Raisa and his daughters. We finish on a cliff-hanger. I’ve been thinking there is only one possible conclusion …………… but then again, does an event send ripples that change things ……………………….