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Interesting New Characters and Lots of Intrigue Are Spoiled by a Flawed Premise
on 7 March 2009
Your reaction to A Darker Place will depend a lot on three things:
1. You feel comfortable with Mr. Higgins' premise that the Communists are still in control in Russia and running things pretty much the same way they always did.
2. You would like a change from Sean Dillon shooting up whoever the Russians send after him or the person Dillon is protecting.
3. You like some character development to balance your killings.
For me, the premise doesn't really work, but I am tired of the predictable Sean Dillon bloodbaths, and I like a balance between character development and "wet" work in my thrillers.
Alexander Kurbsky is a contradiction in one person: a successful Russian novelist, ex-soldier, and assassin who was happiest while living in the UK as a young man. Now, the powers-that-be in Russia want Kurbsky to penetrate Ferguson's operations in the UK. Kurbsky is "encouraged" to play along by the promise that his sister will be released from a remote gulag.
As the story is told, we know what Kurbsky is doing . . . and it isn't very easy to accomplish. Flashbacks help us understand the forces that have created today's Kurbsky while we also learn more about Major Roper. This is primarily Kurbsky's story, and it's interesting to guess which way he will turn next and whether he will be able to carry off the deception or not.
This is such a change from recent novels that it almost seems like a new series. That shift will cheer some and disappoint others.