Dead Men Living

Brian Freemantle, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-312-24379-1
Starring returning hero Charlie Muffin and tackling an international WWII coverup when three perfectly preserved corpses emerge from a thaw in the Siberian tundra, Freemantle's gem of a spy thriller combines old-style espionage with millennial zing. The bodies appear to be those of a British and a U.S. officer and a civilian Russian woman. Master spy Charlie, who's been stationed in Moscow since his old agency in the U.K. morphed into ""a quasi British FBI"" after the Cold War ended, is called up to investigate. Domestic drama heats up since Charlie lives, in secret, with his long-time lover Natalia Nikandrova--a former KGB agent now in a high but vulnerable post in the Russian ""quasi FBI""--and their daughter, Sasha. The American FBI brings in its own investigator, Miriam Bell, who joins Natalia and Charlie in Freemantle's (No Time for Heroes) brilliantly contorted plot; all three agents have been set up by bosses with much to hide, and much to gain from their sleuths' failures. The corpses are linked to Nazi art thefts, and Charlie unearths the coverup when he finds fake graves for the victims and purged records from the Brit's file. He masterminds the survival strategies for the trio of agents, using the media and old spy tricks to toy with the puppet masters. Miriam outdoes Bond in sexual feats and mental sparring, bringing gender equity to the genre, while Charlie stays one step ahead of his superiors, bosses and enemies. Siberia's harsh climate and Moscow's volatile politics are in clear focus as slippery, upper-class Brits and powerful Americans toss monkey wrenches into Charlie's plans. This engrossing thriller perfectly sets up further Moscow adventures with Charlie and Natalia. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/29/2000
Release date: 06/01/2000
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