Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Double Game by Dan Fesperman

Here's another fantastic read that I pulled from my pile!
In itself, it is a fun and satisfying middle-aged-man Cloak & Dagger story, but the layers of spy fiction fan geekiness push it over the top into the CAN'T MISS THIS category for fans who just can't get enough of Le Carre, Furst, Fleming et al.
Bill Cage, a 53-year-old former international journalist, current reluctant PR hack, divorce, disappointing dad, and beloved only son of former State Department employee Warfield Cage, gets the chance to live out the plots of his favorite spy novels. But when real danger strikes and he realizes how much he has to lose, is playing the game still worth it?
A mysterious note referencing favorites in the spy genre kicks it all off. Soon Bill is leaving Georgetown to revisit Cold War sites from his childhood. There are book codes, clues leading through deliciously old-world bookshops, microfilms from the KGB, and tons of references to spycraft's golden era.
Great drama, great character, and also great that even though there are some very thrilling scenes, some of the major cruxes of the story have wonderful psychological depth.
Watch for Litzi, a competent, smart femme who doesn't necessarily need to be fatale to be completely magnetic.
Perhaps best of all is the full bibliography at the end. I made a two-page wish list in my reading journal just from that.
The drink of this book: whiskey, neat. But also vodka, slivovitz, red wine...

I think readers who enjoy this might also try Pavel & I by Dan Vyleta (a spy thriller set in post-WWII Berlin, with loads of twists and turns), Restless by William Boyd (a 1970s mother-daughter story in London intertwined with mom's shenanigans as a spy in WWII) and-- a bit more of a stretch, but there's something about the deep reading, the family ties, and the layers of fiction-- The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips (a contemporary drama about a son, his conman father, and the undiscovered Shakespearean play that won't let them go). 

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