Monday, August 3, 2009
A timely, scary and topically current book. The main characters in this 21st century Cold War spy thriller are a female Russian KGB (now something else?) colonel -Anna-who is assigned to be a 'honey pot' to a British M-16 operative- Finn- inside Russia. One is never sure until the end whether the relationship between them is real, or being feigned by one or the other to accomplish their spying on each other. We are led to believe he's trying to find out what Russia's intentions are and why they are amassing billions of western dollars in European banks. She's trying to find out the significance of what he knows, and decide whether she's in love with him or not. As they travel, separately and together all over Europe, and inside Russia, they're both trying to feed just enough information back to their respective bosses to keep from being fired (or killed!). Told from Anna's point of view, Dryden does a good job of explaining what could be (and probably are?) the intentions of and inner workings of today's Russian leadership. Anna struggles with her belief in her country and her understanding of and (dis)trust of her country's leadership. She struggles with her feelings for Finn. How she is able to resolve these struggles produces a breathtaking ending. Once I got into the book, I found it was a real page turner-- to the point that I had 4 pages left to read when my plane landed, and actually sat in the airport parking lot to finish it before I left to drive home! However, I wish the beginning had been as exciting as the ending . I almost put this down at about the 35-45 page point. It was not developing into anything that sounded like a thriller. A little tighter editing, or even a different 'grabber' at the beginning might have boosted my interest. It was overall though a great story and one that enlighted me about current world politics, and one that certainly will have me following Russian vs "The West" relations more closely. Thanks to Harper Collins for making the advanced galley proof available. It's due in your bookstore in September 09.