After giving Charlie Muffin a two-novel vacation (At Any Price, 1999, and Mind Reader, 1998), Freemantle brings back his favorite hero for a steadily gripping tale with wickedly cruel dialogue in high places and a plot that hooks right from the start. El Nino–related weather changes have brought a thaw to Siberia and uncovered the frozen bodies of two intelligence officers, one British and one American, and a Slavic woman. Clearly they’ve been here since WW II, but who are they? After autopsies reveal only deepening mysteries, the Russians decide to bring in the British. Charlie, now back in the Moscow espionage department and again living with his Russian mistress and their daughter, gets the assignment. As might be guessed, the three bodies lead Charlie back into WW II intelligence activities, including German undercover affairs and Hitler’s will, as well as into a secret Gulag not far from where the bodies were found. But the real secret goes even deeper, into the very heart of all the intelligence branches. There’s no easing of Freemantle’s steel grip on the story, and Charlie’s mind still has a new-minted gleam.
Top-flight spy fiction.