Schism Hardcover – 1 Sep 1981
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Also charged with investigating Turney's reappearance is Martin Foley, a priest who works for Protection of the Faith, the intelligence gathering organ of the Catholic Church. Like the KGB, the Church assumes that Turney is keeping a secret it would prefer to remain hidden. And like the KGB, the Church wonders what information Turney has given to the Americans. A third factor in the search for secrets is Rita Macklin, a sassy freelance reporter in Washington, D.C. whose ability to get a picture of Turney on the morning news embarrasses the intelligence agencies that are trying to keep him hidden.
It is only in chapter 6 that our hero, R section operative Devereaux (code named November), appears. He is also charged with learning what Turney knows. Of course, he becomes involved with Rita Macklin and, of course, he is prepared to use her and to betray her. That's a common theme in spy novels but it is particularly well executed here. The theme is not just the lies a spy tells to others in order to be effective, but the equally important lies a spy must tell himself.
Another theme is the extent to which intelligence agencies compete with each other. Not just KGB versus CIA, but CIA versus NSA versus R section. The internecine conflict threatens to end the existence of R section, a prospect that troubles Hadley, Devereaux's buttoned down boss. As always, Devereaux cares only about the mission, solving the mystery of Turney's secrets and the reason the Soviets, the CIA, and the Vatican take such an interest in him.
Good spy novels often revolve around conspiracies. Schism relies on several conspiracies, the conspirators all working at cross-purposes, and the betrayals are endless. "Everyone is guilty in the end; we all betray each other," Devereaux says. "Sometimes, we don't live to regret the betrayals." The betrayals that underlie the central conspiracy are intriguing, the dance between Devereaux and Denisov is masterful, but the novel's real power comes from Turney's internal turmoil, his yearning to see the light in a dark world.
Every significant character is multifaceted, from the priest who wants to use Tunney's fame to swell the collection plate to the pompous National Security Adviser. Schism is just as good as The November Man. It is a treat for fans of intelligent spy novels.
"Schism" is a wonderfully crafted spy novel. It revolves around a former CIA agent placed in Cambodia before the fall of Saigon. This agent, a Catholic Priest had been missing for 20 years and was presumed dead. Now the CIA, KGB and the Vatican are all scared of the secrets he might tell.
If you are a fan of Tom Clancy, John Le Carre, Robert Ludlum, Jim Grant etc. You will enjoy this novel.
Of the Bill Granger Novels I've read, this is my 2nd favorite, just slightly behind "Codename November (formerly The November Man)". So don't be afraid, take the leap, dive in and enjoy!