What spycraft is all about
Charles McCarry was an agent himself, as many may know, but that doesn't make a person a good writer. Luckily for us, Mr. McCarry wrote a fine novel. He put his knowledge to good use, creating a believable situation full of living, breathing characters.
The story is the tragedy of Tadeus Miernik as told by others. The form Mr. McCarry chose is that of a dossier of reports from various Western Intelligence organizations and is presented in chronological order. It starts with Miernik's efforts to get himself positioned as the Soviet laison officer attached to a Marxist revolutionary force in Sudan sometime around 1960 and concludes a few months later with his brutal death by these same forces. The reports were writen by outsiders with little or no knowledge of Miernik, by some who were his enemies and by a few who were both his friends and enemies. It makes for fascinating reading.
The interaction of the agents is marvelous. In what should be dead, dry reports the people all come alive. We see Miernik's operation gestate, unfold and then come apart as he rushes to his doom. The wonderful thing is that Mr. McCarry doesn't telegraph anything. Right up to the end Miernik could have succeeded. This is quality writing indeed.
I believe that the form chosen, a dossier of reports, was unique to espionage fiction when this book was written. The form of the novel ceates the suspence as we are given just one piece of the puzzle at a time. The suspence builds as we find out more information and become more and more familiar with te characters.
I highly reccommend this book.