THE MESSENGER MUST DIE by Kjell-Olof Bornemark

THE MESSENGER MUST DIE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Prize-winning Swedish spy thriller, reminiscent of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold; well-received in Europe, where it is being filmed. For 30 years Greger Tragg has been a middle-level East German spy, or ""messenger,"" working as a free-lance medical journalist in Sweden. High above him in the spy hierarchy sits Alex, a communist mole in the Swedish government and the Russians' biggest spy. Now Greger and Alex have had their roles compromised by a defector to the West who may or may not know about them. Already five spies have been picked up by SOPA, the Swedish CIA. Tragg makes a fast visit to Ulrich Langer, his next in command in East Berlin and himself a spymaster hovering on retirement age. Langer explains that the defector does not know who Alex is, only Tragg does, but that Tragg's life as a messenger is now limited indeed since he is the weak link who may expose Alex. Langer describes just how Tragg will be retired and what a diminishment in living style his retirement and relocation will bring about for him: a socialist spy in retirement is not to be envied. Meanwhile, Langer has become involved in a scare: some multinational Algerians have announced an opening for bids on a tremendous deal in the electronics field that a small Swedish firm will win and that--if properly engineered through Swiss banks--can make Langer and Tragg millionaires. Tragg goes back to Stockholm to prepare the coup with his likable helpmate Svanberg, an ingenuous taxi-driver and bookie. However, the Swedish security police are too close to arresting Tragg for Alex to feel safe, and so Alex sets in motion a scheme to kill Tragg. Tragg is now running both from the Swedes and from his communist co-conspirators, while trying to make the connections that will allow him to fade away onto a small island for his final years as a millionaire and with a new identity. Not compellingly original, but steadily absorbing, with a keen eye for characterization and an accent on tradecraft rather than bloodshed.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1986
Publisher: Dembner--dist. by Norton