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Customer Review

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite excellent, 24 April 2012
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This review is from: The Darkling Spy (Kindle Edition)
When I reviewed The Midnight Swimmer last month I commented that, as a Cold War spy thriller, it was in the same class as anything written by either John LeCarre or Len Deighton. 'The Darkling Spy' involves the same main characters whilst the story line predates 'The Midnight Swimmer' by a few years.

I had been amused by Edward Wilson's somewhat peculiar comment at the very back of 'The Midnight Swimmer' that 'This is a work of fiction. When I have used official titles and positions, I do not suggest that the persons who held those positions in the past are the same persons portrayed in a novel or that they have spoken, thought or behaved in the way I have imagined.' This disclaimer also appears at the back of 'The Darkling Spy'.

In reviewing 'The Midnight Swimmer' I'd established that the thriller's Jim Angleton had the same bombastic and unpleasant personality traits as a certain James Jesus Angleton who, in real life and from 1954 to 1975, held the extremely influential position of Associate Deputy Director of Operations for Counterintelligence. This period, of course, spans the timeline of both thrillers.

The reappearance of Jim Angleton, still CIA's Head of Counterintelligence, in 'The Darkling Spy' suggested it would be an interesting exercise to check whether any of Mr Wilson's other 'fictitious' characters had actually existed during the Cold War period.

It quickly became apparent that 'The Darkling Spy' skilfully involves a number of individuals who, in real life, had shaped the history of that period and whose doppelgänger equivalents play important roles in the thriller. In addition to James Angleton they include:

∑ William King "Bill" Harvey, who really was the American West Berlin Chief of Station in the 1950s,
∑ Aleksandr Feklisov, a highly successful Soviet spy who recruited the traitors Julius Rosenberg and Klaus Fuchs,
∑ Markus Johannes "Mischa" Wolf, the head of the foreign intelligence division of East Germany's Ministry for State Security,
∑ Erich Mielke, the head of the Stasi of the German Democratic Republic between 1957 and 1989. After German reunification he was tried and convicted of murdering two police officers in 1931,
∑ Imre Mezo, secretary of the Budapest HWP committee who was inside their Budapest headquarters during the siege. He was amongst the first parliamentarians to emerge from the building; they were fired upon and Mezo died of his injuries a few days later,
∑ Yevgeny Pitovranov who really was head of intelligence for the 1st Chief directorate of the Soviet MGB between 1950 and 1953.

Mr Wilson also, and equally cleverly, positions two of his main characters in Budapest during the tragic uprising of October/November 1956, an uprising that was ultimately - and ruthlessly - put down by the Soviet forces.

In addition, Rudolph Ralswiek - one of his fictitious characters (aka the double, triple or perhaps quadruple agent Butterfly) - is portrayed as being responsible for betraying the German strategic plans for the Battle of Kursk (arguably the greatest tank battle in history) to the ultimately victorious Russians.

'The Darkling Spy' (darkling = occurring or enacted in the dark) is an extremely well written thriller built around, whatever Mr Wilson claims, real life characters and real life events. I found it almost impossible to put down.

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Updated comment, 5th May 2012

It's virtually essential that, as the saying goes, you read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the the last nine pages of first thriller of the series The Envoy before starting on either 'The Darkling Spy' or The Midnight Swimmer. Otherwise you'll find yourself wondering why a certain Kit Fournier (and Jennifer) make a completely unexplained - but apparently relevant - appearance in both thrillers.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 29 Oct 2012 22:48:39 GMT
Ceemac says:
Halfway through The Envoy just now. Great book. Many thanks for the heads up on those last few pages, before I embark on Swimmer/Darkling. In passing, both excellent reviews, Mr D!!

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Oct 2012 07:48:40 GMT
Terry D says:
Thank you very much for the comment!

Enjoy the books.
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