Derek Lambert’s classic spy novel exposes the truth about the life of the Western community in post-Stalin Moscow and their existence in which tensions and hostility of the Soviet Union sometimes prove intolerable.
An American working for the US embassy and the CIA, a young Englishman at the British Embassy gradually cracking under the strain of Moscow life, and a member of the Twilight Brigade. In an alien land, their lives become inextricably joined in a vivid and tense story of diplomats, traitors, Soviet secret police and espionage.
Not a thriller in the traditional sense, more Literary Fiction, but it is atmospheric and intense. Western diplomats, press corp and the intelligence services in Moscow live a pressurised life. They are insular and cut off from the indigenous population. Living in a bubble, that leads to extreme behaviour often illicit sexual liaison and heavy alcohol consumption. The isolation and loneliness come across in this story.
As in his subsequent novels, this a mix of fact and fiction with dramatic interpretation, giving it an intrinsic authenticity.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse/ Killer Reads – Collins Crime Club via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
On 21 June 1922 Count Alexander Rostov – recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt – is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol.
But instead of being taken to his usual suite, he is led to an attic room with a window the size of a chessboard. Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely.
While Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval, the Count, stripped of the trappings that defined his life, is forced to question what makes us who we are. And with the assistance of a glamorous actress, a cantankerous chef and a very serious child, Rostov unexpectedly discovers a new understanding of both pleasure and purpose.
I’ve had this book on my to-read pile for over a year. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to read it but I wanted to savour it and until now, I never had the time.
This story is full of historical detail and the pacing is quite slow, very much in the style of Russian literature. It is a very engaging tale full of beautiful imagery and vivid characters who come to life as you read.
The history of Russia after the 1917 revolution is well documented. In this story, the main events are highlighted but it’s more about how the political and cultural change affected particular individuals who would probably have never known each other so well in imperialist Russia.
It is an enjoyable read, well written but you definitely need time to appreciate it.
I received a copy of this book from Random House UK, Cornerstone via NetGalley in return for an honest review.