Monday, September 21, 2009

Jenn's Review: The Venona Cable

Summary: The past erupts into the present when the police arrest Alexei Volkovoy, known as Volk, at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport and take him to a murder scene. At first, the dead man appears to be just one more victim of Moscow’s out-of-control violence. But Volk soon discovers that he is a famous Hollywood filmmaker whose reputation was destroyed in 1995 when the CIA released decrypted documents from the Venona cables—the top-secret American and British crypto-analysis of Soviet messages that implicated the Rosenbergs, Alger Hiss, Kim Philby, and hundreds of other Soviet spies. Tucked inside the American’s pocket is a marked-up Venona intercept that refers to a Russian used as a spy by the Americans, a man who may have been Volk’s illustrious father.

Aided by his female partner, Valya, Volk’s only hope to clear his family name will be to solve this murder and discover how the Venona papers relate to his father’s disappearance, while powerful forces want to keep him from investigating the past and to remove him from the present.

Review: Okay, I'm back ( kinda). I read this book well over a month ago so I hope I do it justice.

Though this is the middle of a series, it was certainly easy to pick up. The only confusing bit was the alphabet soup that serves as all the branches of intelligence and black ops, pre and post cold war -this made for slow going in the beginning. The book is full of espionage spies, double spies, triple spies... you get the idea. And throughout the book, Ghelfi keeps you guessing at who's allegiance belongs to whom.

I actually had hard time deciding who to route for... while Volk is the protagonist, and I empathized with his character, I had a hard time routing for a Russian spy. I think Ghelfi has an interesting angle writing from a Russian spy's point of view, and I was impressed that he could make Volk so accessible.

My only disappointment was that I wish things were a little more wrapped up in the end. I'm sure Ghelfi left it a little open ended because he plans on continuing the series, but a little more closure would have been nice. All in all a good spy book.

Final take: 3.5/5.0

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