By: Paul Vidich
Publication Date: 4/12/2016
My Rating: 5 Stars
A special thank you to Atria and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Old-Fashioned Spy Fiction at its Finest!
Paul Vidich delivers a fascinating adventurous debut AN HONORABLE MAN –richly atmospheric, inspired by true events. Suspenseful—powerful and gritty; a chilling Cold War spy mystery thriller!
The dark shadows are lurking from the past. How personal is the political? Is the past ever past? A riveting mystery with a poignant cast of characters – Complex, emotional, rich in history.
In the grand tradition---Classic spy fiction genre of literature involves espionage, emerging from the early twentieth century, inspired by rivalries and intrigues between the major powers, and the establishment of modern intelligence agencies.
Who can be trusted? Agents haunted by their own compromises.
Set in Washington DC in the 1950s, The Cold War is heating up. Joseph Stalin’s death. An unsettling time. Tensions, stresses, enemies, corruption, bureaucracy, secrets, hypocrisy, and betrayal. A time when people lived the life that was excepted of them.
From communism, homosexuality, atheism.
There is a double agent. Someone is selling secrets to the Soviets. A traitor. Code name – Protocol. The Soviets had penetrated the Agency. Someone inside had provided the Soviets with drop points, and later the names of CIA assets. Everyone worried about a Soviet agent in their midst. A traitor.
George Mueller is the perfect man to assist. Find the mole. Muller liked to keep private matters away from his job, but the daily grind made that hard. Politics had taken over everything. He was tired of the double life, the daily mask.
Lonely. Holding onto secrets. Life changing secrets. A desire to escape. Muller wants out. A polygraph test. College, the war, Vienna. Loneliness. Secrets were restless things. Secrets got out. The motivations of men around him were suspect and he no longer knew whom to trust.
The Council selected men who they believed had access to the Agency’s secrets and a motive. Twenty names. Each suspect. The list was secret. Secrecy protected the investigation from compromise, but is also protected the reputations of the innocent.
Based on the sad troubled life of James Speyer Kronthal, found dead 4/1/1953 similar to Robert Altman--a brilliant young deputy of Allen Dulle’s who had worked in the OSS with Dulles in the Bern Station during the WWII. He was one of the original 60 whom Dulles brought to the CIA. The initial recruits were not required to take a polygraph test. Later the CIA discovered a questionable life. In order to keep arrest and scandal under wraps, he was later set up, blackmailed, and became the first Soviet mole in the CIA. These acts later came to light. Forced to honor and duty—compulsions destroy careers—leading to apparent suicide (his death), in order to prevent political embarrassment. Read more at the end of the book, in the acknowledgements.
Taut storytelling Reminiscent of old-school John Le Carré spy thrillers -- Vidich uses well-researched references, books, websites, and quotes of poetry and literary prose-an intriguing Ivy League educated young man who lived a secret life within a secret career. Layers of secrets. A hostile political environment—hushed, during the Cold War.
“Oh, my worse sin was in my blood; Now my blood pays for it.”—John Webster
Quite interesting how spy fiction has taken on different roles throughout history: from the Nineteenth century, WWI, Inter-war period, WWII, the early/late Cold War (British/American), Post Cold War, to Post–9/11 and the subsequent War on Terror, with a reawakened interest in the peoples and politics of the world beyond its borders-- with new authors emerging in the espionage genre.
Despite the end of the Cold War the spy genre has flourished but changed to keep up with the shifts in the political landscape post 9/11.
Gripping! Red-baiting fifties--a term commonly used in the US and its history, often associated with the McCarthyism, which originated in the two historic Red Scare periods of the 1920s (First Red Scare) and 1950s (Second Red Scare). Due to mounting Cold War tensions and the spread of communism --- "McCarthyism" being coined to signify any type of reckless political persecution or witch-hunt.
After reading, you will understand why Publishers Weeklynamed AN HONORABLE MAN the Top Ten Mysteries & Thrillers of Spring 2016 (plus many other mentions and awards). Most certainly on my radar! Impressive.
Looking forward to listening to the audio version narrated by, George Newbern.
The Literary Spy Novel: Five Recommendations by Paul Vidich.