cover image Agent 6

Agent 6

Tom Rob Smith, read by Dennis Boutsikaris. Hachette Audio, unabridged, 11 CDs, 13 hrs., $34.98 ISBN 978-1-61113-990-7

In his third and final novel featuring Russian policeman Leo Demidov, Smith covers three decades in his protagonist’s life, beginning in Stalinist Russia in 1950 when Demidov meets his soon-to-be-wife, Raisa. Then it’s on to 1965, when the cold war thaws enough for Raisa and their two adopted daughters to travel to New York and get caught up in a deadly conspiracy. The book operates on several levels, as a spy thriller, a study of obsession, and a harsh criticism of political expediency, and narrator Dennis Boutsikaris finds a splendidly sardonic voice that captures all three. When it comes to dialogue, much of it from the mouths of Smith’s carefully crafted Russian characters, Boutsikaris uses a minimal accent and a slightly brusque, typically Slavic manner of speech. Equally commendable is his subtle approach to female voices: a softening and mild shift in pitch. Worthy of special notice is his vocal choice for Jessie Austin, a world famous African-American singer and avowed Communist. It’s vaguely Southern, educated, and filled with the wonder of the politically naïve. A Grand Central hardcover. (Jan.)