A gang of disgraced British commandos infiltrates Russian territory to bring out a Navy turncoat in a tale to match the best of the mid-century spy thrillers.
The always reliable Seymour (The Unknown Soldier, 2005, etc.) has taken a reading of the temperature in Comrade Putin’s Russia, deduced the return of deep, murderous winter and risked a return to classic British form. Good call. Assembling his adventure from such road-tested parts as the return of an out-to-pasture spymaster, the brilliant but modest analyst in love with her Russian asset, a relentless state security interrogator and four disgraced commandos looking for atonement, Seymour sets his machinery in motion in Kaliningrad, that last decadent bit of the Evil Empire on the Baltic coast between Poland and Lithuania. There, where the remnants of Soviet naval ambitions lie rotting at the piers for lack of fuel and provisions, Captain Victor Archenko, trusted aide to an upwardly mobile admiral, has begun to sense that he is being watched. The double game he began four years earlier when he walked onto an English trawler with a package of military information addressed to London has come to an end. A corrupt local enforcer from the KGB’s successor agency chanced into evidence of Viktor’s unauthorized travels, and enforcers are closing in. Now Viktor is asking for redemption of Britain’s promise to extract. Unfortunately, his handler has retired, and the attention of British Intelligence has shifted from the remnants of the Soviet Union to the new war on terrorism. To the rescue comes Alice North, whose passionate attachment to the asset in Kaliningrad exceeds her loyalty to the empty suits who have replaced her old boss Rupert Mowbray, whom she alerts to the present danger. The still clever Mowbray works up a rescue plan that recalls to action four exiled and disgraced commandos with nothing to lose except, possibly, the cynical careerist reluctantly along for the ride.
Nearly unbearable tension. Splendid spy stuff.