THE SLEEPING SPY by Herbert & Clifford Irving Burkholz


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The opening premise here--similar to the one in Eric Clark's far classier The Sleeper (1980)--is quickly, strongly sketched in: in the last days of WW II, a young Russian agent is substituted for an American G.I. in Europe; 35 years later, the Russian is now James Emerson, Asst. Secretary of Defense; but when the KGB at last decides to activate their ""sleeper"" (they want him to defect for propaganda purposes), it turns out that Emerson has become a genuinely loyal American, a devoted husband and father who doesn't want to go back to the USSR. Unfortunately, however, while Clark built this notion into a gripping character-study, with ironic plot-twists, Burkholz and Irving mostly just use it as a take-off point for chases, shoot-outs, and kill-fests galore. After Emerson confesses his problem to his old CIA mentor Swan, CIA hit-men are sent out to liquidate Emerson, wife Rusty, and daughter Ginger. But Ginger's boyfriend just happens to be Eddie Mancuso, superstar of UKDs (Unusual Killing Devices), himself a CIA renegade-so Eddie spreads a little mayhem, then spirits the Emersons off to Mexico. And, when Eddie's old UKD colleague Vasily Borgneff shows up, the ex-agents and the Emersons join forces to kill all the pursuing CIA forces--from lowly hit-men (electrocuted) to Swan's high-placed ""Gang of Four"": there are murders in four cities, some of them involving ludicrously exotic/gross techniques. Finally, however, it's the Russians--including Emerson's secret Russian son and an implausible second sleeper in the cast--who will bring Emerson to his sad end. Increasingly farfetched, with gratuitous kinky sex and an excessive body-count--but it's fast and unpretentious too, likely to satisfy those who reveled in the UKD gore of The Death Freak, which also featured Mancuso and Borgneff.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Atheneum