Another supersophisticated spy thriller from a ranking master.

After a prisoner exchange lands him in East Berlin, an American physicist who'd been imprisoned in Britain for 10 years for spying for the KGB risks everything to get his loved ones to freedom.

The year is 1963. Martin Keller, a one-time Los Alamos researcher who had idealistic intentions in sharing secrets with Russia, then an American ally, learns only after he arrives in Germany that the prisoner swap was arranged by Kurt Thiele, a shifty East German who specializes in such matters and who is married to Keller's former wife, Sabine, a West German. After her marriage to Kurt, she settled in East Berlin with Peter, her son by Martin. From the start, when shots are fired at either Martin or Kurt at the checkpoint during their crossing into East Berlin, things are tense. Martin has barely settled into his new residence when Western intelligence descends on him and pressures him into working for them. He slowly realizes that the "important work" he will be doing as a physicist is not what he agreed to. After learning that Sabine is dying of cancer, he devises a plan to escape with her and Peter to get her medical treatment in the West, but how will that sit with their precocious 11-year-old actor son, who has been programmed by the socialist propaganda of the hit TV series in which he stars? In a city rife with corruption (the East Germans were selling prisoners for 40,000 Deutschemarks a head—"more if he was valuable"), no one can be trusted. But someone must be if Martin's dangerous plan is to succeed. A novel that gives paranoia a new name, Kanon's latest in a brilliant collection—including Leaving Berlin (2014) and Istanbul Passage (2012)—may be his most tightly rendered. The suspense builds quietly, almost stealthily, before tightening its grip.

Another supersophisticated spy thriller from a ranking master.

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982158-65-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021


Relevant and richly entertaining.

A lost masterpiece and a professional hit lure the world’s most famous spy back into the field.

Summoned by an old friend to the Amalfi Coast, Gabriel Allon finds a murder scene and an empty stretcher that could have held only one painting, a painting of inestimable value that has been missing for decades—Vermeer’s The Concert, stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990. Allon’s search for this cultural treasure leads him to an alliance with a Danish IT consultant—and gifted thief—and it will require the assistance of the team he once led as head of Israel’s intelligence service. As Silva’s fans will expect, this hunt for a work of art will quickly turn into something much bigger—maybe a rush to avert World War III? Over the course of 22 novels featuring Allon, Silva has vacillated between escapism and realpolitik. This installment is a near-perfect combination of both. One of the pleasures of a Gabriel Allon novel is that it allows us entrée into a world few will ever experience. But even as he might leave readers sighing over a Versace gown or a Michelin-starred meal, Silva asks us to take a hard look at what money can do. He shows us an underground economy in which irreplaceable works of art are used as currency or collateral—or, at best, end up in private vaults where they are protected but inaccessible. And the same wealth that makes commissioning the theft of a well-known and well-guarded masterpiece possible makes murder easy. None of which is to say that this is an anti-capitalist screed. This is a thriller, and it satisfies in the ways that a thriller should while also offering food for thought. And if the plot hinges on one absolutely outrageous coincidence… well, Silva’s fans will likely be willing to allow him that.

Relevant and richly entertaining.

Pub Date: July 18, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-06-283487-4

Page Count: 402

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023


Intrigue, murder, and vengeance make for a darkly enjoyable read.

A woman’s life takes a stunning turn and a wall comes tumbling down in this tense Cold War spy drama.

In Berlin in 1989, the wall is about to crumble, and Anne Simpson’s husband, Stefan Koehler, goes missing. She is a translator working with refugees from the communist bloc, and he is a piano tuner who travels around Europe with orchestras. Or so he claims. German intelligence service the BND and America’s CIA bring her in for questioning, wrongly thinking she’s protecting him. Soon she begins to learn more about Stefan, whom she had met in the Netherlands a few years ago. She realizes he’s a “gregarious musician with easy charm who collected friends like a beachcomber collects shells, keeping a few, discarding most.” Police find his wallet in a canal and his prized zither in nearby bushes but not his body. Has he been murdered? What’s going on? And why does the BND care? If Stefan is alive, he’s in deep trouble, because he’s believed to be working for the Stasi. She’s told “the dead have a way of showing up. It is only the living who hide.” And she’s quite believable when she wonders, “Can you grieve for someone who betrayed you?” Smart and observant, she notes that the reaction by one of her interrogators is “as false as his toupee. Obvious, uncalled for, and easily put on.” Lurking behind the scenes is the Matchmaker, who specializes in finding women—“American. Divorced. Unhappy,” and possibly having access to Western secrets—who will fall for one of his Romeos. Anne is the perfect fit. “The matchmaker turned love into tradecraft,” a CIA agent tells her. But espionage is an amoral business where duty trumps decency, and “deploring the morality of spies is like deploring violence in boxers.” It’s a sentiment John le Carré would have endorsed, but Anne may have the final word.

Intrigue, murder, and vengeance make for a darkly enjoyable read.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64313-865-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pegasus Crime

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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