11 March 2013

Review: AGENT 6, Tom Rob Smith

  • This edition published by Simon & Schuster UK 2011
  • ISBN 978-1-84737-567-4
  • 543 pages
  • #3 in the trilogy that began with CHILD 44
  • Source: my local library
  • Read an extract on Amazon
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

How far would you go to solve a crime against your family?

It is 1965. Leo Demidov, a former secret police agent, is forbidden to travel with his wife and daughters from Moscow to New York. They are part of a "Peace Tour," meant to foster closer relations between the two Cold War enemies. On the tour, Leo's family is caught up in a conspiracy and betrayal that ends in tragedy.

In the horrible aftermath, Leo demands one thing: that he be allowed to investigate and find the attacker that struck at the heart of his family on foreign soil. From the highest levels of the Soviet government, he is told No, that is impossible. Leo is haunted by the question: what happened in New York?

In a surprising, epic story that spans decades and continents-from 1950s Moscow to 1960s America to the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s-Leo's long pursuit of justice will force him to confront everything he ever thought he knew about his country, his family, and himself.

My Take

I have read neither CHILD 44 nor its sequel THE SECRET SPEECH so for me AGENT 6 had to make sense as a stand alone, and it did, although it did make me feel that I should go back and read the other two at some stage.

I was unprepared for the timespan of the novel and wasn't helped by chapters that are headed "Same Day" or  "One Month Later". I do understand that the action basically takes place between 1965 and and 1981/2 and that the location moves from Russia to Afghanistan to New York, following Leo Demidov's quest to clear his wife's name. It explores the political connections between Russia, Afghanistan and America, and the truly awful ramifications of the manipulation of ordinary lives by a few secret agents from both sides. The conspiracy that first affects Demidov's wife and daughters in 1965 is still alive in 1981.

On another plane it balances love of the family against patriotism. There are at least two examples of young people who put aside familial loyalties for what they see as the higher level of patriotism. Demidov's loyalty to his family is contrasted with the betrayal of an Afghani girl's parents.

I don't know that you can ever say you enjoy this sort of novel, but I felt that it did add depth to my basic knowledge.

My rating: 4.4

Read another review at Reactions to Reading 

1 comment:

Bernadette said...

I thought the middle book of the trilogy fairly awful but the first was great and this one good - though I think the latter parts would make more sense with a knowledge of the events depicted in CHILD 44, which from memory is glossed over in this instalment


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