A book blog about Russia in English-language fiction

Tag: Paris

The Moscow Club by Joseph Finder (1991) – part one

Part two of this review is here

The first great post-Cold War thriller. So proclaims the front-cover strap line on this early paperback edition of Joseph Finder’s The Moscow Club. For once, the blurb has substance.

The Moscow Club is a great thriller. And it is post-Cold War. Though handily in terms of giving an undeserved sense of planning to the Russian in Fiction blog, its plot reaches back into the Soviet past, providing a neat link from our preceding mini-splurge reviewing novels on the death of Stalin.

According to the publicity blurb, The Moscow Club was named by Publishers Weekly as one of the ten best spy thrillers of all time. That might be pushing it. But Finder’s first novel might well nudge the top ten of the 100 books this blog will review, providing as it does almost 600 pages worth of densely plotted, action-filled, twist-on-twist thriller.

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The Useful Idiot by John Sweeney (2020) – part two

Part one of this review is here.

Who is The Useful Idiot in John Sweeney’s 2020 thriller set in Stalin’s Soviet Union in 1933?

Although the book’s hero, Welsh journalist Gareth Jones, feels himself —in a moment of passing regret— to have behaved as such, the true useful idiots are those Westerners, diplomats and journalists, who are willingly hoodwinked by dreams of Communism whilst refusing to spread abroad stories of the violence, famine, and death before them.

And chief ‘useful idiot’ of the piece is Walter Duranty.

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The Secret Lovers by Charles McCarry (1977)

The standard unit of measurement for writers of spy fiction is ‘the Le Carré’. Almost any half-good new espionage writer gets some blurb on the back of their book calling them ‘the new Le Carré’.

Besides being the only espionage writer whose name rhymes with Le Carré, McCarry, who died in 2019, was one of the few to merit the comparison in terms of quality, and indeed of style.

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