THE SPY NEXT DOOR by Lawrence Kessner


Email this review


In real life author Kessner was a high-school classmate of Peter Herrmann, a young man whom the FBI nailed as a ""second-generation"" KGB spy. But since the FBI would not open its files to Kessner (quite understandably), this is a speculative fictionalization of the true story--with names changed and suppositions given free rein. The story begins when Tomas Most, a former German soldier, joins the postwar East German secret police, then is inducted into the KGB, given a new name--Walter Scholz--and sent to Canada for a four-year cover job as a filmmaker before he emigrates to the US. Scholz has married apolitical Else in Berlin, and they raise their family in Woodvale (read Hartsdale) just outside New York City. Scholz's mission: to raise a son who will go to Georgetown University, later join the CIA or State Department and by age 40 be a top spy. And indeed Walter eventually does reveal his secrets to chosen son Mark. . . while younger brother Stephen, not told, becomes a troublesome, fat kid, always feeling on the outside of family. Walter and Mark go to Moscow (via cover travels) for training, where Mark is also trained in sex by a lady KGB instructor and where he learns of the whole system of similar families embedded in the US and producing deep-cover spies. But one day Walter takes Mark's place on a mission and is picked up by the FBI after long surveillance, as is Mark: they become doubles against the KGB. And when Mark is nearly murdered, the FBI moves in again, gives them new identities--and Walter later testifies to media representatives about his spy work. An intriguing premise, imaginatively filled out--but without enough authoritative factual detail to maintain steady credibility and tension.

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1981
Publisher: Arlington