“An Agent in Place,” by Robert Littell, or Another Spy Writer for Me to Track

I like a good spy novel, so when I found this book at a used-book store for a couple of bucks, I took a shot.

I am glad I did. Set in the Soviet Union in the days of glasnost, the plot pits cold warriors in the United States and Russia against one another because, dammit, they aren’t ready for the Cold War to be over. Their machinations embroil a Russian poet and her young son in some desperate spy games. Secret plots, relentlessly cruel tactics and various levels of mistrust move things right along after a bit of a slow start, and it becomes a genuine page-turner before long.


The prose and storytelling are not as dense and rich as one finds in Le Carre or Greene, but it is good cloak-and-dagger stuff. More cloak than dagger, to be sure, but there is some realistic violence and there are plenty of tense situations.

The book was published in 1991, but it has a sort-of renewed timeliness in these days of an American president apparently entangled in some Russian spy games himself. 

I had never heard of Littell before I found this book, but I am genuinely happy to see he has written several espionage novels. I will be on the lookout for them.

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