A VIEW FROM THE SQUARE by John Trenhaile


Email this review


Less clever and plausible than The Man Called Kyril (1983), Trenhaile's second novel again involves KGB chief Povin--but this time the busy, predictable scenario switches back and forth between Moscow spy-doings and American derring-do in Siberia. Povin now wants to defect to the West, along with a dear pianist-friend. In exchange for UK/US aid, he offers a secret: forces in Russia (the GRU, the Air Force, Stalinist hard-liners) are planning to kill dÉtente forever--by stealing one of America's AWACS! And, indeed, before the West can take action, the theft occurs--thanks to a US pilot (a Soviet mole), who flies the super-plane to Irkutsk, where it's hidden in the snow prior to study by USSR scientists. The only solution? Ex-CIA agent Kirk Binderhaven must assemble an ""Emergency Service Team"" to sneak into Siberia, locate the plane, and destroy it on the ground. About half of the novel, then, follows the largely doomed Binderhaven expedition--complete with disguises, super miniweapons, scuffles (a KGB man is killed), ordeals, and a tad of romance. Meanwhile, in alternating chapters, the mission--and Povin's defection plans--are further threatened by the ambitious curiosity of Povin's assistant Frolov, who's suspicious of his boss: Frolov doggedly investigates Povin's past, discovering some secrets. And the result is that Stalinite villain Kazin gains total power over the hapless Povin--while the Irkutsk mission comes to a sad, violent, successful conclusion. Fans of textured espionage will find the Mission Impossible sequences a routine distraction. Fans of Firefox-ish action will find the spy-tangles a draggy intrusion. But readers who like both sorts of suspense will be serviceably engaged by this split-focus thriller--which again, like Kyril, offers le CarrÉ-ish vignettes yet lacks the presence of a strong central character.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1984
Publisher: Congdon & Weed--dist. by St. Martin's