SPYTRAP by William Crisp


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The best twist in this slight but sturdy little spy-tale comes at the end of the first chapter: that's when you realize, with a neat surprise, that Crisp's narrator/hero works for the KGB, not the CIA. He is Sergei, a youngish but important attachÉ/agent stationed in Vienna--cool, efficient, dedicated, even if more liberal/Westernized than most of his colleagues (especially his fanatic nemesis, Embassy security-chief Razin). And Sergei's new assignment--a retaliation against recent CIA attempts to instigate Soviet defections--is to somehow ruin one of Vienna's American spies. Sergei chooses a rakish, athletic US agent named Westfall as his target; he finds evidence that Westfall has been misusing government funds in a scheme to sell Czech artwork in Vienna. But, while building his blackmail-dossier, Sergei becomes seriously distracted--by Daria, the gorgeous young daughter of the Bulgarian ambassador, with whom he begins a heated, secret affair. (Sergei's wife, a Soviet minister's daughter who is over-devoted to her graduate-work in economics, is out of town.) And when Daria's father is ordered home, she decides to go West--with smitten Sergei, who soon finds himself stealing USSR money, forging documents, embarking for Switzerland. . . and walking into a doublecross trap (which will come as no surprise to savvy espionage readers). Solid Vienna backgrounds, intriguing Soviet-spy angles (including a final, bribe-laden hearing back in Moscow), and a decently clever plot: classy spy-jinks--even if first-novelist Crisp never quite makes Sergei a fully engaging or believable hero.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1982
Publisher: Pantheon