Forsyth's stalwart tribute to the spies who came in from the cold:
four thriller-novellas featuring the intrigues of British
superagent Sam McCready. With the cold war over, the Foreign Office
has decided to retire its veteran spies, beginning with McCready,
the "deceiver"'--head of Britain's disinformation desk since 1983.
McCready balks, demanding a hearing at which his assistant relates
four of McCready's most daring exploits. The first and longest,
"Pride and Extreme Prejudice,"' is at once the most suspenseful and
melancholic. Here, McCready, having "turned'' a top Russian
general, sends spy-pal Bruno Morenz into East Germany to accept the
Russian's latest gift--the Soviet Army War Book; but, unknown to
McCready, Morenz has just killed a cheating mistress and is
cracking up. When the East Germans catch on to Morenz, who panics
into hiding, McCready must sneak across the Iron Curtain, find
Morenz, retrieve the book, and deal--irrevocably--with his friend.
Also subtly shaded with the grays of spydom is "The Price of the
Bride,'' in which McCready learns from a pro-West Soviet source
that the CIA's new prize, defecting KGB colonel Pyotr Orlov, is
actually a double agent bent on falsely implicating a top CIA-man
as a Soviet mole. It's a masterful spy-vs.-spy battle of wits as
McCready sets out to unmask the Russian and save the marked Yank.
Less enthralling but still offering solid action and brilliant
local color are the two final tales, with McCready acting pivotal
but minor roles as he displays his prowess against non-Soviet
threats. In "A Casualty of War,'' he foils an IRA-Qaddafi gun-
running scheme, while in the semi-humorous "A Little Bit of
Sunshine,'' he foils a Cuban takeover of a Caribbean island. Not a
sizzler like The Day of the Jackal or even The Negotiator (1989)
but more resonant than either, with shades of le Carr‚ and
Deighton: sophisticated, shrewd, roundly satisfying spy- stuff.