RED DANUBE by Carl A. Posey

RED DANUBE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Posey has in the past (Kiev Footprint, 1983; Prospero Drill, 1986) parlayed a fascination with technology into modestly entertaining scientific thrillers; here, he attempts a John le CarrÉ turn and ends up with a spy novel so densely labyrinthine that the reader cries out for a spelunker. The Centre for Analytical Studies is an East-West think tank that was set up in Austria during a mad moment of dÉtente, and that is supposedly funded so scientists the world over can come to Vienna to help solve the world's problems. In reality, it's a hotbed of spies, and into their clutches, like a lamb to the slaughter, comes Dr. Schaefer Braun, a 40-year-old California oceanologist leaving behind a tragic past (his parents and his lover Nancy died in a car accident). Things perk up a little for him when he meets Dr. Valentina Orlovsky, the only Russian at the Centre who shaves her armpits and doesn't reek of vodka: ""I felt my spine turn into something like warm wax at its base, a column of sweet bone powder, a door sprang open in my breast. . ."" Instead of seeing a doctor, he decides it's love, but soon realizes others besides Valentina have their eye on him. There's Maxim Trulov, burly KGB major, the sinister Baker Lincoln, an American intelligence operative, and Andrei Pastukh, the Russian Director of the Centre who treats Schaefer like, well, like a son. Finally, after many, many plodding pages and 40 years' worth of tortured flashbacks, we are grateful to learn that Pastukh is really an American named Shepherd (pastukh is Russian for Shepherd), placed in the Soviet Union as a mole at the end of WW II by Baker Lincoln; on his way through Austria, Shepherd/Pastukh had impregnated Schaefer's real mom, Lisa, who was then whisked away by the Americans to a California mental institution while Schaefer was raised by relatives. Shepherd/Pastukh's mission in Russia and at the Centre remains obscure, but he does tell Schaefer the troth before being killed by Baker Lincoln, and Schaefer in turn threatens to expose Lincoln and his ring of spies if he and Valentina aren't left alone to study oceanology in peace. Sub-genre.

Pub Date: Aug. 29th, 1986
Publisher: St. Martin's