TITLE: AGENT 6
AUTHOR: TOM ROB SMITH
Details: no. 3 Leo Demidov
Reviewed for Bookdagger's Real Readers Programme
Book reviewed for Book Dagger's Real Readers programme. I received a beautiful limited edition bound proof copy which was both signed and numbered.
Before I start on my thoughts on this book I have to stress that although I did read Child 44 I never got around to reading The Secret Script, therefore I read Agent 6 out of order which may or may not have influenced the reading experience.
The story in Agent 6 starts in 1950 with a visit from a Black American singer, Jesse Austin, a big supporter of communism, to Moscow. It is also the time when Leo Demidov meets the love of his life and wife to be, Raisa.
The story then jumps ahead 15 years to 1965 when we find Leo no longer working as a secret agent and living quietly and happily with his wife and two daughters. But, although Leo is happy to have left politics and conspiracies behind him, it seems that politics are not done with him and his family yet.
When is wife and two daughters travel to the United States as part of an orchestra organised as an effort to relax relations between the USA and the USSR, Leo has his suspicions. But even in his worst nightmares Leo could not have foreseen the disastrous outcome of the trip. An outcome that will leave him heartbroken. Unable to investigate what happened in America and not believing the official version of events, Leo descends into despair.
Seven years later we find Leo in Afghanistan, managing to stay alive against the odds and addicted to opium. When he finds an opportunity to at last investigate the events that destroyed his life he takes it, but the question is, will the answers he finds set him free?
Tom Rob Smith is a wonderful writer. His words flow with an ease that makes his stories an almost effortless read. The pages are virtually turning themselves as the reader shares Leo's pain, despair and need for answers.
Having said that, the subject matter is definitely not an easy one. The horrors of the Soviet regime in the USSR and the subsequent horrors in Afghanistan make for bleak reading, all the more so because they sound so very authentic. I found myself on several occasions wondering how anyone could possibly live under such circumstances, how I would deal with life if forced to live under such a regime, consequently making me very aware how lucky I am to live where I do, taking all my liberties for granted.
Although I did find the whole section in the book set in Afghanistan fascinating in a gruesome sort of way, I do feel that the story could have done with that part being shorter. While it did give a good insight into the level of Leo's pain, it didn't add a lot if anything to the solving of the mystery at the centre of the story other than provide a means for Leo to get to America.
Overall I thought this a fascinating and very well written book that could have done with being a little bit shorter. Therefore I rate this book 4.5 stars.