Published in 1985, this takes us from our current lukewarm war with Russia back to the real Cold War. The secret services grapevine has picked up news that “Adam Procane” is about to defect, this could be bigger than Kim Philby’s defection. Adam Procane, whoever he might be is thought to be a top American Official, this could scupper Reagan’s hopes of re-election. The GRU in the Soviet Union is rubbing its hands in anxious anticipation. Tweed of the British SIS, is keen to have Procane stopped before he (or could it be she?) crosses into the Soviet Union. In Estonia four GRU officers have been murdered mysteriously, could it be connected. Four highly suspected top Americans head for Scandinavia: the Deputy head of the CIA, the National Security adviser, his wife and the Chief of Staff of the Amed Forces. Anyone of them might be Procane. All the agents now need to wait until someone makes a move.
This is a classic Cold War spy thriller. Everybody is following everyone else or trying to give their tails the slip.
“Here’s a fiver. My wife has a detective following me in the cab behind. When we hit a traffic jam I’m getting out – you keep the change, OK?”
The driver stared at Newman in his rear view mirror and winked. It was a situation he was not unfamiliar with.
Newman is the joker in the pack, he is not in the secret services, he is a journalist, he is desperate to avenge the murder of his wife, murdered by a rogue GRU officer in Tallinn. He needs to find some way of getting to Tallinn, not an easy task in the mid eighties when those westerners allowed into Tallinn, to outward appearances a model Soviet City, had to wait weeks for a visa and undergo various checks from the Russian secret services.
Tweed has a Europe-wide network of informers and assistants including some rather implausibly attractive and capable women. Tweed ‘s codename of “Brown Seal” reminds me of the Dom Joly sketches with various secret agents having animal names in Trigger Happy TV.
David Cameron’s name pops up, but not as British Prime Minister, just as an alias for clandestine activities.
Like all good thrillers there is a twist in the tale, but I won’t spoil it for you.
My rating: 4 out of 5