The master story teller who hit the headlines with “Day of the Jackal” and followed it up with a series of best sellers including Dogs of War, The Negotiator, “Fourth protocol” etc. is back in form with this superbly written novel which has all the hallmarks of Forsyth, meticulous detailing and a breathless narrative that keeps you glued till last page.
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Russia 1999 (Book written in 1996): Hyperinflation, third in a row crop failure, starvation deaths, utterly dejected and confused populace, Mafiosi ruling the economy and the society, rampant crime in the streets, gangs ruling all aspects of life, demoralized Defense Forces, resource rich Siberia preparing to secede with the covert help of Japs and Korea., this is the grim scenario staring President Cherkassov in the eye.
Western economies including US having poured billions of dollars aid and grants/loans in the bottomless pit have now given up, and ready to write off CIS.
Dejected Cherakassov dies of heart failure,an acting President takes over and announces election within 3 months.
Igor Komarov,a charismatic orator, an ex-army engineer, superb organiser of men, is the ultra right wing opposition leader waiting for just the opportunity. He has built up his organisation and cadres over a period of years, has backing of the most powerful mafiya, and has the most dreaded Col.Grishin as his second in command. He makes all right kind of noises, manages to win the hearts and minds of the frustrated populace, and is all set to sweep the elections. Behind the façade, he is fascist, another Hitler in the making, and has drawn up a post-election action plan which is a secret document “black manifesto”.
The document by strange set of circumstances falls into the hands of British Intelligence, which is horrified at its contents. British and US Governments however, decide to ignore the document and refuse to do anything. There is a group of powerful and influential leaders ( a la-Ludlum?) who decide to do something to prevent Komarov come to power and appoint Sir Nigel Irvine, ex-chief of British Intelligence to head the operations. The wily old fox concocts a brilliant plan and recruits a brilliant, resourceful and accomplished Ex-CIA Officer, Jason Monk to implement his plan.
Together with a few people, they put into action a plan using deception,guile,contacts, and old debts, to penetrate Russia , enlist a section of the persecuted minorities,army and the defunct Church.
Ranged against the powerful,heavily armed,mafiya backed organisation of Komarov, and the apathetic,in-awe-of Komarov populace, what chance does this small group of Irvine,Monk and a few others has? They don't even have the support or backing of their own Governments? Read the book for answers.
As a continuous background to the fictional story, Forsyth gives the entire background history of the disintegration of USSR, fall of Communism, the canvass stretches from end of Breznev era to Gorbachev, Yeltsin and beyond. As we look at the events today, much of what Forsyth imagined in 1996, has come very true!
The story of Jason Monk's exploits in CIA is a chronicle of Cold War espionage and counter espionage. There are many historical and factual references, the story goes back and forth in time, you never know when the facts have given way to fiction or vice-versa. That's the craft of Forsyth!
A well written book, highly recommended for the lovers of
The review of this Book prepared by r b siddhanti