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Defectors    by Joseph Kanon order for
by Joseph Kanon
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Joseph Kanon's Defectors is a tale of two brothers, separated by the Iron Curtain. In 1949, CIA agent Frank Weeks was exposed as a Communist spy and fled to Russia. His brother Simon had to resign from his job at the State Department and turned to publishing. Twelve years later, Frank contacts Simon to inform him that he's written his (KGB-approved) memoir. Frank asks Simon to travel to Moscow to edit the book. But can he be trusted? What does he really want from his brother?

Frank, an officer in the Service - and his friend and handler, Colonel Boris Vassilchikov - meet Simon at the airport. At his hotel they meet other expat defectors, 'agents who've outlived our usefulness' and live a very restricted life. Simon reunites with his sister-in-law Joanna, who has drunk too much since the death of their small son from meningitis. Frank claims that Jo never knew what he was doing. And she whispers a warning in Simon's ear, that her husband is 'up to something.'

Simon meets Hal, a foreign journalist looking for a story about Frank and the other traitors, whom he sees as ghosts in Moscow. They all have country dachas in a KGB compound and spy on each other. One of the atomic spies recently shot himself - Hal wonders why. Frank takes Simon sightseeing and raises the topic of another defection ... back to the United States. He wants his brother to act as messenger. Frank claims to be very ill and to want to get Jo home again before he dies. So Simon heads to the Embassy and makes a call.

But that's not the end of it. Simon gets pressed into further spycraft and forced into violence. They plan a trip to Leningrad together before Simon's flight home, and make arrangements with the CIA to get Frank and Jo out of Russia. Which is when the best laid plans go off kilter, and Simon learns his brother's real intentions. If you've ever wondered what it's like for defectors - and enjoy a well plotted mystery - delve into Joseph Kanon's latest.

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