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Wednesday, 2 June 2021

‘The Mercenary’ by Paul Vidich

Published by No Exit Press,
18 March 2021. 
ISBN:  978-0-85730-445-2 (PBO)

The mercenary of the title is Garin.  He is Russian by birth and speaks Russian but was brought up in America.  It is the mid-1980s, Gorbachev is in the wings.  Garin has been hired by the CIA to get a defector, one of their agents (codename GAMBIT), out of Russia.  As he has information the USA want, and though no KGB defector has been successfully extracted from the USSR, the CIA agrees to GAMBIT’s demand that his wife and child accompany him. 

To add to the already complicated mix, Garin has previously served as a KGB agent before working for the CIA.  He also has relevant history – a failed attempt to help a Russian general to escape some years before.  His plans for the exfiltration are slightly distracted when he meets a former Russian ballerina, now KGB member.  So, who trusts him and who does he trust? 

The story weaves its way through 1980s Soviet Russia, revealing small tragedies, and betrayals, sadness and desperation.  The bursts of violence and claustrophobic atmosphere add to the underlying tension as the uncertainties of the future hover around.

This is a thought-provoking and interesting story, with the outcome unclear to the final pages.  The author already has many fans, and this will please them and encourage others to sample his particular style of spy novel.
Reviewer: Jo Hesslewood

Other books by this author:  An Honorable Man, The Good Assassin, The Coldest Warrior

Paul Vidich has had a distinguished career in music and media. Most recently, he served as Special Advisor to AOL, Inc. and was Executive Vice President at the Warner Music Group, in charge of technology and global strategy. He serves on the Board of Directors of Poets & Writers and The New School for Social Research. A founder and publisher of the Storyville App, Vidich is also an award-winning author of short fiction.

Jo Hesslewood.  Crime fiction has been my favourite reading material since as a teenager I first spotted Agatha Christie on the library bookshelves.  For twenty-five years the commute to and from London provided plenty of reading time.  I am fortunate to live in Cambridge, where my local crime fiction book club, Crimecrackers, meets at Heffers Bookshop .  I enjoy attending crime fiction events and currently organise events for the Margery Allingham Society


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