Reviewed by Theodore Feit
With this, the fourth Jack McColl spy story, David Downing concludes the series. It takes place just as the civil war in Soviet Russia is ending and developments are dire with respect to the original high hopes that accompanied the Revolution, and the nation suffers from all kinds of shortages, especially food for a starving populace. Jack is not faring any better, languishing in jail for assaulting a Bobby, when his Secret Service boss visits him and presents Jack with a way to get out if he accepts an unofficial assignment. Jack is disillusioned by the slaughter of so many in the Great War and can’t abide spying for his country any more, but accepts the assignment to get out of jail. So he goes to Russia to learn what other British spies are planning at the behest of MI5. And unknown to him, he will again meet with the love of his life, Caitlin, who is now married to one of the men involved in the MI5 scheme which Jack was sent to investigate and possibly foil.
The author’s ability to recreate the environment of the historical period, along with descriptions of the economic and political atmosphere, is outstanding, as is the recounting of the action resulting from the hunt by both Jack and the Cheka, the Russian secret service and forerunner of the GPU, for the plotters. Highly recommended.