cover image Agent 6

Agent 6

Tom Rob Smith. Grand Central, $25.99 (480p) ISBN 978-0-446-55076-5

Spanning decades, the ambitious final volume of Thriller Award–winner Smith’s trilogy set in the Soviet Union (after 2009’s The Secret Speech and 2008’s Child 44) takes former KGB agent Leo Demidov from Moscow to Manhattan via a gripping, relentless whodunit plot. In 1950, the Soviet authorities plan to exploit the arrival in Moscow of Jesse Austin, a Paul Robeson–like American singer and dedicated Communist, for propaganda purposes, but Austin’s refusal to play along creates complications. The full implications of Austin’s behavior don’t become apparent until the action shifts to 1965, when Demidov’s wife and two adolescent daughters travel to New York City as part of a delegation intended to ease cold war tensions, and tragedy ensues. Most readers will reach the final page with regret and in awe of Smith’s uncompromising vision of the realities of a police state and the toll it takes on those caught in its meshes. (Jan.)