Defectors by Joseph Kanon

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Defectors by Joseph Kanon

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: A thrilling page turner set in Cold War Russia, Defectors is full of well written secrets, mysteries and betrayal which makes it a very hard book to put down.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: June 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1471162619

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Moscow, 1961: With the launch of Sputnik, the Soviet Union's international prestige is at an all-time high. And the most notorious of the defectors to the Soviet Union, former CIA agent Frank Weeks, is about to publish his memoirs. What he reveals will send shock waves through the West. Weeks' defection in the early 1950s shook Washington to its core – and forced the resignation of his brother, Simon, from the State Department. Simon, now a publisher in New York, is given the opportunity to read and publish his brother's memoir. He knows the US government will never approve the publication of what is clearly intended as KGB propaganda. Yet the offer is irresistible: it will finally give him the chance to learn why his brother chose to betray his country.

American author Joseph Kanon is reknowned for books which often feature WWII or the time following it. The most well known is probably The Good German, made into a fascinating film starring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett. Defectors is set in a later time period, choosing instead to embrace the dark world of the Cold War, but fits well with the rest of his books – they tend to be set in a shadowy, grey world, and Defectors is no exception – a fascinating read packed full of atmosphere and tension.

The world of Defectors has always rather fascinated me – I've read a lot on the Cambridge Spies , and always founds the tales of Burgess and Philby and their lives post defection to be particularly intriguing. Kanon touches on this in his book (and those particular characters may make an appearance), and features not just the double and triple crossings of thrillers like this, but also offers a fascinating insight into why people may have chosen to defect, and the vast impact it would have had on their families. Kanon keeps a steady hand on the reader throughout the book, guiding them through some truly surprising twists with a firm, forceful hand: this is a page turner which may well need reading twice in order to get a completely full picture of the various turns and changes that form this plot, but it doesn't make it any less of a gripping read, and in fact the air of fog that certainly overcame me at points only helped me easily feel the mind-set of Simon as he uncovers the secrets of his brother's life. A smoothly written book, Defectors is an exciting read from a seasoned author, transporting the reader to the dark, mysterious days of the Cold War, and breathing new life into secrets and mysteries from decades past. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.

For further reading I recommend Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith, another thriller that transports the reader to Soviet Russia and takes them on a journey filled with danger and intrigue.

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