The Russian Key

Jeri Laber. Arcade, $24.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-951627-72-0
Laber (The Courage of Strangers: Coming of Age with the Human Rights Movement) makes her fiction debut with an intriguing spy novel written in the form of a memoir. In 1954, Kate Landau and two other Smith College students interested in Russian culture travel as tourists to Moscow, where Kate has a brief fling with Max Rzhevsky, a student at Moscow University, before returning home. In 1964, Kate, who’s now a doctoral student at Columbia University’s Russian Institute in New York City, accepts a job with the CIA as a Russian translator. She eventually receives a sensitive assignment, investigating the cultural affairs officer of the Soviet mission to the United Nations, who is none other than Max, now a KGB agent. Kate finagles a meeting with Max, and within days, they’re lovers again and the two embark on a yearslong spy vs. spy relationship. Laber, a founder of Human Rights Watch, clearly draws on her personal experiences as Kate is increasingly drawn to the cause of human rights. Those expecting a traditional espionage tale may be disappointed, but those seeking a fresh take on the genre will be satisfied. (May)
Reviewed on : 02/11/2021
Release date: 05/01/2021
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Book - 978-1-951627-73-7
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