Thanks to NetGalley and Red Door for providing me with a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.
For fans of British espionage books, the Dylan series by Brian Landers is a marvelous way to build upon the works of Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, and John le Carre`. Landers, along with friends who had previously been a part of the British Intelligence Service began a political intelligence unit in London, and traveled the world gaining an insight into the “spy game.”
For the third book in this series, Landers focuses on Poland and the events of the early 1980s, which include the rise of Solidarity at the Gdansk Shipyard, and the eventual military takeover of the country by General Jaruzelski. And all of this begins with the assassination of a Turkish General in Russia. Thomas and Julia Dylan are there on a cultural city tour when the General is killed and nobody but Julia got a look at the assassin. Quickly the Dylan’s are brought back to England, debriefed, and soon are part of the UK assistance to a CIA devised Operation Coronation, all of which has to do with the return of the Crown of a medieval Polish king to a priest in Poland and which will allegedly cause the Polish people to rise and overthrow the government.
As with the traditional espionage novels, Landers introduces us to characters from Russia, Poland, England, and the US, along with his wife who always seems to be one step ahead of everyone in terms of understanding what is going on! We are taken into everyone’s points of views and ideas as to what has gone wrong with this plan, and see that uneasy cooperation between the CIA and British agencies involved in this.
In addition to the death of the Turkish General, we also have an escaped Polish naval soldier who washed up on British soil by accident and whose story is too bizarre for anyone to make out. Landers also has the excellent ability to end a chapter with a hook that makes us want to continue reading since Dylan thinks one thing is happening and then in the last sentence of the chapter he relates that things aren’t as we expect.
Lots of Polish history in the book and that history is the driving force behind the plots, counterplots, and counter-counter plots! It is a fast-paced and highly believable book, and even though it is the 3rd book in the series it can easily be read as a stand-alone book. Nobody does espionage like British authors, and Landers has mastered this genre and his setting in Poland in the early 1980s is one that is both fresh and fascinating.