GRISHIN by Hans Herlin


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A British agent is assigned to assassinate Lenin: Herlin enters Day of the Jackal territory with his third (and least solid) espionage thriller. The novel is set in Moscow in the spring and summer of 1918, against a deteriorating situation for the Bolsheviks. There is a chronic food shortage, a typhus epidemic, and rumors of Allied landings; Lenin is holed up in the Kremlin. Our man Grishin (of Russian origin, but now a British national) arrives via Finland; after knifing to death his untrustworthy courier, he spends the rest of the story hanging around. First his Moscow controller, consular official Jim Hall, tells him not to rush things; then his assignment is put on ice while Lloyd Fleming, London's special envoy, negotiates with dissident Bolshies planning a coup. Momentum is further slowed by a flashback to Grishin's Russian past, and a trip east he takes to visit with a Caucasian bandit (and ex-employer): ""Moscow was depressing. I needed a change,"" says Grishin lamely. Back in Moscow, those ""dissident Bolshies"" turn out to be Lenin's Cheka agents; they imprison Fleming and kill Hall, while Grishin makes a narrow escape, in the end, it is Peters, head of Lenin's security detail, who betrays his boss, enables Grishin to get off three shots at Lenin, and then spirits him away to the heartland along with Lena, his Russian lover and fellow assassin manquÉ. Tired, mechanical work, full of improbabilities; where Forsyth got all of the factional plotting against de Gaulle out of the way in the opening chapters, clearing the decks so that his autonomous Jackal could go to work, Herlin disastrously takes the opposite tack, idling his poor assassin while letting the intrigue swirl.

Pub Date: June 16th, 1987
Publisher: Doubleday