Sunday, May 12, 2013

Timebomb by Gerald Seymour

Gerald Seymour's Timebomb certainly isn't a James Bond thriller. Instead of banter, flash, and daring-do it's an unglamorous, realistic study in how many things can go wrong while still achieving the desired result.

Seymour brings the understatement of le Carré and the verisimilitude of Clancy to the tale of a Soviet nuclear warhead being brokered by the Russian mob to buyers unknown.

Every character in this tale is flawed. The MI-6 team leader is a universally disliked Cold War veteran who has to run this interdiction with a talented but minimally staffed team because only one other person believes this isn't a wild goose chase. The ex-Soviet military types, out to get their due after being rejected by the disintegrated USSR, are old geezers who hopelessly underestimate the job of transporting the device from its hiding place to the point of exchange. The mob boss is a soulless beast driven by tales of his grandmother's escape from Sobibor near the end of World War II. And MI-6's inside man is slowly reaching the point of psychological breakdown to the point where he begins to think the mob boss is his only true friend.

Any fan of John le Carré's work will enjoy Gerald Seymour's Timebomb.

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