cover image A Single Spy

A Single Spy

William Christie. Minotaur, $25.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-250-08081-3

Alexsi Smirnov, the engaging hero of this impressive spy thriller set in the 1930s and ’40s from Christie (The Warriors of God), grows up in Soviet Azerbaijan, where he becomes a master thief and a master cynic. An orphan, he’s adopted by the Shultzes, a family of German socialists who immigrate to the Soviet Union only to be annihilated in a purge. In 1936, the Russians capture the 16-year-old Alexsi and pack him off to Moscow. Spared Siberia because of his brains and his linguistic talents (Russian, Farsi, German), he becomes a Soviet spy. Alexsi’s mission is to pose as the surviving Shultz son, return to Germany and his well-to-do “uncle” (a high official in the German foreign ministry), then infiltrate Nazi intelligence. Christie deserves credit for making that unlikely scenario remotely believable. The larger plot, somewhat too slow in development, involves the famous meeting of Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin in Tehran in 1943, but what carries the book is an intelligent understanding of political terrorism and the spy’s tradecraft. [em]Agent: Richard Curtis, Richard Curtis Associates. (Apr.) [/em]