Something a little different than usual for me, but it's come highly recommended and didn't disappoint. An eerie whoddunit murder mystery that takes place on a remote island off the coast of Ireland during a wedding.
I find commercial fiction like this sometimes sacrifices prose and literary style for mass appeal, but Foley is an excellent writer (and storyteller) and conjures a sinister atmosphere: dark, stormy, insidious. The dilapidated manor, the sheer cliffs, the peat bog, the tombstones crumbling in the cemetery.
While the story is suspenseful and unpredictable, I never really cared for any of the characters from the outset. Most are vain, entitled, or tedious, and by the end found myself despising the vast majority of them. It was almost unfortunate that there was only one murder (...or was there?)
Foley is good at weaving the anxiety throughout the chapters, all told from different character perspectives, leaving cliff-hangers for the reader at every opportunity. The last chapters are especially brief and keep the pace of the story barreling forward as the mystery culminates. I didn't call it, in the end, there was an inkling of something towards the beginning but I wasn't nearly close enough.
Hats off to @lucyfoleyauthor and a shoutout to @readswithrosie where I first heard about this book. A tense thriller that slowly brings all the puzzle pieces together into a grim, yet impressive picture.
3.9 / 5.0
This one was incredible. A fascinating tale about espionage during the Cold War, made all the more impressive by the fact that it's a true story.
The book charts the rise, the influence and the defection of Oleg Gordievsky, a KGB agent who covertly worked for MI6 for over a decade, and reads as if every spy movie ever made was based around his extraordinary life. There's Gordievsky, assisted by the British in becoming head of the KGB in London, interrogations with truth serums (apparently that's a real thing), the threat of nuclear war, Russian spies who could have potentially become Prime Minister of England, dead drops, secret codes, and onward from there.
It's not only the story of Gordievsky, but an insight into the all-consuming paranoia of the Cold War era, both among individuals and entire intelligence agencies. It helps demystify what drives some to betray their countries or become disaffected with deeply ingrained ideologies. It was fascinating to learn just how disillusioned so many Russians were when Soviet tanks crushed Czech opposition during the Prague Spring of 1968. Gordievsky himself is easy to root for, as you witness him question the violent and oppressive excesses of Marxism and decide, for matters of principle, to seek to undermine its influence.
A brilliant page-turner, it's hard to believe it's a genuine story of one man's career as a covert agent. And if you don't feel like taking my word for it, it's perhaps best described by the inimitable John le Carré: "The best true spy story I have ever read."
5.0 / 5.0