The Blind Spy by Alex Dryden

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The Blind Spy by Alex Dryden

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: An intricate spy thriller where Russia wants to be top dog. Political and economic intrigue in spades as East and West thrash it out - courtesy of some memorable characters.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: September 2010
Publisher: Headline
ISBN: 978-0755373338

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The author writes under a pseudonym and he has worked in intelligence, so he should know what he's talking - and writing about. He concentrates on the battle for supremacy (and we've been here before) as Russia and the USA clash. The story itself is an intricate one. Full of agents/counter-agents, spies/double spies and the like and appearances by members of the CIA and MI6 amongst others. If you like spy thrillers, then this novel will suit you down to the ground. Lots of furtive and secretive missions all over the place to keep the reader guessing and interested.

Dryden opens with the early years of The Blind Spy. His story is interesting and sad in equal measure. And it had me hooked right from the beginning. Russia is described in joyless terms drained of colour and bereft of joy. We then fast forward to 2010 and Dryden gives us a bit of potted history as far as Russia is concerned. I think most of us are aware of the key issues. One word - Afghanistan. But this is three decades ago when Russia took that country on. And now that Ukraine has broken away from mother Russia as well, it all adds to the general woes.

Putin's secret services rear their secretive heads throughout this fast-paced novel. One mission seems to stand out amongst others - bringing Ukraine - which dared to show an independent streak - back into the loving arms of Russia. Tough call. Everyone around the table knows this will be extremely difficult. But elections in Ukraine are looming. A window of political opportunity not to be missed. I thought to myself that this novel is shaping up nicely - and I'm still on Chapter One.

One of the central characters, Anna shows many admirable qualities. She would be an asset to many countries. But does she show loyalty to any one country? We are all aware of spies and counter-spies. And throughout Anna is a thoroughly engaging character - through her actions, her thought process, her childhood etc. We come to see that she has given up a lot in her life - but for what, exactly?

The wealth and exotic lifestyles of the chosen ones, the agents, is at times, mind-boggling especially when activity is in the poorer parts of Russia. The unquestioning loyalty of some is impressive - or stupid? Imagine being instructed to do something dangerous - without knowing why or to whom. And the whole 9/ll tragedy puts the ultimate twist on an already complex scenario. And there are always those whose arrogance goes before them. Thinking themselves bigger than the 'firm.' But will they survive?

This novel has a really intricate plot with believable characters and a thread of real-life running through it. It is fast-paced throughout as befitting the spy thriller genre. But Dryden is considerate. He has put in 'quieter' moments so that the reader can draw breath, or simply catch up with developments. Certainly appreciated by myself. And the character who gives the book its terrific title? Put it this way, he thoroughly deserves his starring role and when he makes an appearance you sit up and take notice. He is enigmatic, powerful, ruthless. But does he have a heart? The ending is fantastic and everything falls into place. Recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then try The Foreign Correspondent by Alan Furst to The Lensky Connection by Conrad Delacroix.

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Buy The Blind Spy by Alex Dryden at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Blind Spy by Alex Dryden at


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