Saturday, March 10, 2012

I have been waiting for this third book in the Child 44 series for a long time. I don' t really know what is so captivating about these books about a disillusioned secret service agent in Cold War Russia, but it's probably a combination of the great characters and this part of  history that is so little used in fiction today.

In this one, Leo Demidov must let go of his family. His wife Raisa is asked, as a teacher, to take their two adopted daughters to America for a propaganda/publicity tour, and Leo is not allowed to leave the country because of his former job with the secret service. But unbeknownst to her parents (big surprise from a teenager) their oldest, Zoya, has become involved with a Russian officer who convinced her to become involved in a dangerous propaganda plot.

There isn't a lot more that I can tell about the story without giving away the shocking turning point for Leo. Leo's life, for the most part, has not been his own throughout the books. It has been mercilessly manipulated by the government and his own, very lowly, ideals for himself. But it is his character, loving yet hard, weak yet intelligent, that makes the reader want him to win in something, whether it be war, or love, happiness, or simple safety. He is a mess, just like his Russia, and we want to save him from it.

So, take a shot at rooting for Leo through the twists and turns of his life. You won't be sorry.

The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen by Thomas Caplan

Movie stars, espionage, nuclear weapons, love triangles - what more do you need in a spy thriller, I ask you? Nothing. And Thomas Caplan delivers them all in a nice glossy package in The Spy who Jumped Off the Screen.

Ty Hunter used to be an average looking, patriotic, dangerous, covert operative for the American government. But an one mission left him with a new, surgically enhanced face and a desire to be in the movies, where his good looks and macho nature paid off for him, making him a big star. But his expert spy skills are equally handy when the FBI comes looking for him to help them take down two nuclear arms dealers, Ian Santal and Phillip Frost, who travel in sophisticated circles. Ty uses his acting plus all of his cool spy skills to help the government catch the bad guys. But is his pursuit of  Frost's lovely fiance, Isabella, part of the act? You'll have to read to find out!

This was a fun yet sophistocated thriller with lots of twists, great characters, and a timely plot that, along with Bill Clinton's plug at the beginning, will make readers think about nuclear proliferation more closely.