Dr. Sam Gaddis is an academic, specialising in Russia. He lectures at a London College and writes unpopular books. He is also facing some grave financial demands he can’t meet. What he needs is an idea for a book that will be a bestseller, a proposal for which he will get a huge advance.
When a friend comes to him with an idea for a book which will unveil a well kept and still very potent cold war secret, it seems like the answer to his prayers. When his friend suddenly and unexpectedly dies, it is put down to her bad habits and Gaddis decides to go on with the research. It is only when someone else connected to the story also dies that he becomes suspicious.
But, by then he is in too far, and still needs the money desperately.
He appears to be on the tail of an unknown sixth member of the infamous Cambridge spy ring. A man whose identity and existence has been kept secret his whole life, a man whose existence various people want to keep secret indefinitely.
Gaddis is determined to get to the bottom of this sixth man, but soon finds others involved dying around him and not knowing who can and who can’t be trusted. It seems to be only a matter of time before he too will be hunted down and killed, but by the time Gaddis comes to that realization he already knows so much that stopping his search would probably not save his life.
It has been a while since I last read a spy story and I had forgotten how much I enjoy the genre. And this was a good one. It reminded me of the John Le Carre “Smiley” novels.
In this story the reader knows more than the main character, and is lured into thinking that they know exactly what is going on and why, only to find out that secrets are being kept from them as well, leaving room for several revelations in the last few pages of the book.
The only reason this book didn’t get a grade 5 from me is because I found Sam Gaddis exasperating at times and thought the story depended a bit too much on luck on his part. Other than that the book, the idea behind the story and the way in which it was executed fascinated me. A solid 4.5 stars therefore.