This review contains no spoilers.
Book Name: Agent 6
Author: Tom Rob Smith
Series: 3rd in an apparent trilogy
Publisher(s): Grand Central Publishing
Format(s): Hardcover/Trade paperback/eBook/AudioBook
Genre(s): Historical fiction/Thriller
Release Date: January 5, 2012
For those that missed it, I’ve also reviewed the second book of the trilogy, The Secret Speech. It gives some insights on how I came across this series.
Agent 6 picks up soon after the events of The Secret Speech take place, but unlike the first two books Tom Rob Smith writes a story that covers nearly 30 years and deals with the Cold War between the USSR and the USA (often referred to in the historically correct term of “The Main Adversary” in Agent 6) and then into the Soviet Union’s ill fated invasion of Afghanistan. If you were looking for a “feel good” story, let me tell you, Agent 6 isn’t it.
Like the two books before it Agent 6 is really about the redemption of main character Leo Demidov, forced to deal with the emotional and intellectual trauma of his past actions with the MGB (the Soviet’s Ministry for State Security) and later the KGB. Unfortunately, those issues come right to the forefront again when during a trip to the United Nations for a concert performed by American and Soviet school children tragedy strikes Demidov’s family. When Demidov is refused permission to travel to the US to investigate the circumstances of the issue, deep depression takes over his life and eventually results in him being “exiled” to Afghanistan.
While it is incredibly well written, once what is going to happen becomes apparent it becomes a difficult book to read because the reader knows where the story has to end. Smith handles every scene well and sets the stage for what is undoubtedly the toughest thing that Demidov ever had to face, and then knowing the true facts of the tragedy what Demidov had to do to complete his redemption. The obvious ending, which is not written but only implied by Smith, is both uplifting and gut wrenchingly sad.
Smith is most certainly headed to the top of the list of great thriller writers. Folks should get on board by reading his trilogy about Leo Demidov, and they do need to be read in order to get the maximum out of them. I whole heartedly recommend Agent 6, after you read Child 44 and The Secret Speech, of course.