Marshall’s knowledge of the Cold War and its technology adds realism to the novel, with lengthy passages about alliances and highly detailed specifications of weaponry. That level of detail will appeal to fans of technology and history. Readers hoping for more spy-vs.-spy action may be confused by the nuances of radio triangulation positioning, but they’ll appreciate the rescue mission. The danger faced by the Westerners in Soviet Russia is palpable and believable, quickly immersing the reader in their peril.
Marshall’s characters are well developed and given lengthy backstories that slow the early part of the story but provide insight into the characters’ present-day behavior. His focus on Alex’s military background adds credibility to Alex’s shift from engineering to espionage. Once Samantha vanishes, the pace is crisp. Though the novel concludes abruptly, the intense narrative overcomes many shortcomings. This novel about the inner workings of Cold War espionage will please history buffs yearning for more realism and technological focus in the spy thriller genre.
Takeaway: Fans of well-researched historical spy stories with elements of romance and tragedy will be drawn to this Cold War espionage thriller.
Great for fans of Jack Arbor’s The Russian Assassin, Ben Macintyre’s The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: A-