March 29, 2012

Book: The Deceiver by Frederick Forsythe

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:18 am

There are a lot of people who claim that Frederick’s first novel, ‘The Day of the Jackal‘ is still his best and all other books of his are anti-climactic compared to the first. This book does nothing to disprove that impression.

Frederick Forsyth sets the scene for weaving four short stories together in the form of one narrative by setting the scene as a review of the work done by Sam McCready, the experienced, but maverick spy from British Secret Services. The powers that be want to send him home with a honourable discharge and Sam requests a review. His lawyer presents three different cases where Sam has distinguished himself as an argument for why he should be retained, and we get four short stories ‘for the price of’ one book.

The first incident concerns Bruno Morentz, who as an undercover agent, is persuaded by Sam to infiltrate East Germany from the West, in a flamboyant way (West German businessman in a gleaming Mercedes) and collect a top secret document from a visiting Russian Mole who is very highly placed in the Russian army. He manages to get into a personal issue which ends in his committing murder before he crosses over, thus attracting attention of the West German police even before he starts, collects it, and then gets into an accident deep inside East Germany. When approached by the police, he panics, shoots one of them and simply vanishes in a strange country – an impossible feat that has every police and spy agency behind the Iron Curtain scratching their heads in wonder. It falls on Sam McCready to rescue the situation. How he does is revealed in brilliant, sparkling detail.

The second story is about a high level defector from Russia, one Major Kuchenko. He surrenders to US authorities and proves to be a goldmine of information, wreaking havoc with long established spy rings from Russia. As one after the other crumbles, US is thrilled with the ‘find’. When Sam McCready alleges that all is not what it seems, it is brushed off, even resented. But Sam has an inner source that reveals the diabolical plan to shake the CIA to the very core by an ingenious ploy… The story is well told, but the suspense is not from the twist in the story, which is revealed way before the ending, but in the ongoing tension.

The other two stories are less complicated but only mildly interesting.

Frederick’s love of detail is not evident in these. He writes like any other spy author, and the book has nothing that lifts it from the level of a good spy story to a masterpiece of writing. (His Negotiator was the one that came close to being above the level of his other stories).

Now, if you want to enjoy a spy story with some twists and turns, by all means take this book and read. If you expect an exhilerating experience like you found in his first book, you will NOT find it here.

I will say, a 5/10 overall.

— Krishna


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