Brilliantly evoking the intrigue of the Cold War and 1950s London, John Lawton's thrilling sequel to BLACK OUT takes Inspector Fred Troy deep into the rotten heart of MI6, the distant days of his childhood, and the dangerous arms of an old flame, Larissa Tosca, late of the US Army, later still of the KGB. It is April 1956, and an official visit to ...
Brilliantly evoking the intrigue of the Cold War and 1950s London, John Lawton's thrilling sequel to BLACK OUT takes Inspector Fred Troy deep into the rotten heart of MI6, the distant days of his childhood, and the dangerous arms of an old flame, Larissa Tosca, late of the US Army, later still of the KGB. It is April 1956, and an official visit to Britain by Soviet leaders is unexpectedly interrupted when a mutilated body is found under the hull of their ship in Portsmouth harbour. Is the dead man a Royal Navy diver or the corpse of Arnold Cockerell, a furniture salesman with a mysterious source of income? As the mystery deepens, the inexplicable murders continue, leading Troy to an unforgettable discovery.
Publishers Weekly, 2002-12-09 Third-timer Lawton (1963; Black Out) breathes new life into an increasingly creaky genre with this complex, evocative tale that's part Cold War thriller, part whodunit and part olde English lament. Reprising his role as a Russian aristoi-cum-Scotland Yard shamus, Freddie Troy returns from Black Out's wartime fog to the dreary 1956 London of Guy Burgess and Kim Philby, where the visiting Nikita Khrushchev is cheerfully threatening nuclear annihilation. Given his Russian background, Troy is roped into an official-escort-and-spy-while-you're-at-it routine. The Russian leader gets uncomfortably pally with Troy as they tour the city, giving him a secret code word for shadow correspondence; Troy is just beginning to feel relieved at Khrushchev's departure when the decomposed body of an English frogman who allegedly spied on Khrushchev's ship turns up. The pursuit of an insignificant spy killer leads Troy into a maze of double agents, money laundering and murder, not to mention possible corruption inside Scotland Yard and both MI5 and MI6. Along the way, the author cleverly uses his protagonist and a motley crew of secondaries to meditate on WWII nostalgia ("They remember all that was bad about it and go on celebrating it. And the good stuff... the way you class-conscious bastards pulled together... all that's forgotten. You used to know you were all in the same boat, now you don't even think you're on the same river") and the settling chill of the Cold War (" `The Bomb' was `THE BOMB'. Not HE or incendiary, not 500lb or ton, but megatons-a word still virtually incomprehensible to most people, often paraphrased in multiples of Hiroshima: twenty Hiroshimas; fifty Hiroshimas"). Lawton has created an effective genre-bending novel that is at once a cerebral thriller and an uproarious, deliciously English spoof. Agent, Clare Alexander, Gillon Aitken Associates, London. (Jan.) Forecast: While this thriller may be too tongue-in-cheek for some readers, Anglophiles will eat it up. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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