cover image Lenin’s Roller Coaster

Lenin’s Roller Coaster

David Downing. Soho Crime, $27.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-61695-604-2

The October Revolution of 1917 provides the backdrop for Downing’s outstanding third historical featuring British spy Jack McColl (after 2015’s One Man’s Flag). At his father’s funeral in Scotland, McColl reunites with his lover, American journalist Caitlin Hanley, with whom he has a complicated past: two years earlier, McColl arrested her younger brother, Colm, for his role in an Irish republican plot after first offering him a chance to escape. Despite this incident, Caitlin is eager to make the most of their time together before work separates them. McColl’s boss in the Secret Service dispatches him on a mission to determine how the Transcaspian Railway can be put out of action as part of British efforts to prevent Germany from taking over Central Asia. Meanwhile, Caitlin travels to Russia to report on the efforts of the Bolshevik regime to create a new society. In addition to balancing plot and character development perfectly, Downing gives readers unfamiliar with the issues of the time all they need to know. Agent: Charlie Viney, Viney Agency. (Mar.)