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`Dreaming of a better world was not without its dangers.'
on September 28, 2011
Agent 6 is the concluding book in a trilogy featuring Leo Demidov, a former Russian Secret Service agent (the other two books are `Child 44' and `The Secret Speech'). The book opens with a flashback to the younger Leo in 1950: a committed, idealistic, member of the secret police who has discovered the secret diary of a young artist, Polina Peshkova. A single sooty fingerprint led Leo to deduce that the diary may be hidden in the chimney. The consequences of the investigation begin a journey which takes Leo into a different life by 1965, when we meet him and his family in Moscow.
Leo discovers Elena's secret diary, but stops himself from reading it. He will have cause to regret this. Leo's wife, Raisa, and daughters Zoya and Elena, have been chosen to travel to New York as part of a `Peace Tour' meant to foster better relations between the USSR and the USA. Leo is forbidden to travel with them. Leo's paranoia about this proves to be prescient. A tragic crime is committed in New York, and Leo is determined to find the truth.
The action in this novel takes us from the civil rights unrest in the USA in the 1960s, to the USSR's involvement in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Leo is working as an adviser in Kabul, still a long way from solving the central mystery in the novel. The mystery is eventually solved, after a number of interesting but at times frustrating diversions. The plot is complicated, and some of the twists and turns detracted from the overall story. While I kept turning the pages, I found this story less interesting than the earlier novels in the trilogy: Leo Demidov is a less compelling and more deeply flawed anti-hero. I think that, ultimately, the action overwhelmed the story.
I'm glad I read it, but I think that it is by far the weakest link in the trilogy.
`I don't know what he is going to say so I can't predict what I'm going to do.'