1960—As a British spy and Soviet mole Edgar Davies knew, and as everyone else in MI6 must have known, there was only one way to catch a spy and that was to discover him in his act of betrayal. Davies, an ordinary man disenchanted with his life, plans to defect to the Soviet Union and bring with him years worth of British operational secrets. From Leopoldville in the Congo, to the quiet South American capital of Montevideo, Uruguay, Doomed Spy is a psychological spy thriller set in an unconventional distant posting at the height of the Cold War.
At the center of the intrigue are three intelligence officers: Edgar Davies, a seasoned British MI6 officer posted to Montevideo, Anastas Molotov, a young KGB officer who had befriended him last year in Africa, and now wants to defect and, across town operating from his secure attic command post in the Italianate mansion that is the Soviet Embassy, the KGB Rezident, Colonel Oleg Nadiensky.
Davies and Nadiensky are seasoned operatives in the opaque clandestine world of espionage. But to the casual eye, and on the diplomatic cocktail circuit where the two are never seen together, the Britisher is not what he seems. He has close secret ties to the Rezident who recruited him years ago in Belgium. All the while Molotov is carefully crafting his own plan to defect to the British, bringing with him an explosive secret.
With a cast of unforgettable characters, and a compelling plot, Doomed Spy is an extraordinarily evocative human drama charged with friendship, illicit love, and betrayal that powerfully evoke the tension, people, and intrigue of the Cold War.
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About the Author
J.R. Rogers is a literary historical thriller novelist. (He/Him) He has written seven novels in this genre. His latest is The Italian Couple. He also writes short stories a number of which have been published in various soft cover and/or online publications. Besides writing fiction his interests include art, culture, indie film, gender equality, photography and resort travel. He lives in southern California.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Roger M. Woodbury for Readers' Favorite Anastas Molotov is a spy for the Soviet Union. A young spy, Molotov is bright and energetic, but not as one would normally think a Russian spy would be. Indeed, Anastas and his young, attractive wife are ambitious in a totally different direction. Edgar Davies is a middle-aged British gemstone broker. He has traveled extensively through Europe and when "Doomed Spy" by J.R. Rogers opens, he is in Leopoldville, in the "old" Belgian Congo. It is here that he meets the young Anastas Molotov. Edgar Davies is also a spy for the British Secret Service, MI6. Like Molotov, Davies also harbors some deep-seated secrets revealed to a surprised reader as the story progresses. "Doomed Spy" recounts the story of how these two men, each very different but each with remarkable similarities, meet and meet again. Each, unbeknownst to the other, has very similar objectives and desires far different from merely those of opposing intelligence services, yet all the while, remarkably the same. As in any good spy thriller, nothing necessarily is as it seems. J.R.Rogers leads the reader from one encounter to another as we meet the various members of both the Soviet and the British intelligence operations in diverse locations. Rogers describes the settings and the reader is treated to a pleasant tour of first, hot, sultry Leopoldville and then the beautiful Montevideo with its broad streets, avenues and old, near-European-style architecture. The reader sees first Molotov's, then Davies's missions as their secret desires are revealed slowly, right up to a finale totally unexpected. The author's attention to detail is quite microscopic but the details never detract nor derail the reader's interest. I was swept along, reading large numbers of pages while never knowing the hour hands on the clock had covered so much territory. Only one small error stole me out of the story for a moment: the shutter on a Leica M3 is nearly silent which is why the cameras became the standard for journalistic and private setting photography in their day. Vaguely reminiscent of the early writing of John LeCarre', Rogers is a fine writer of this genre and "Doomed Spy" is a novel that is a must read.
I had mixed emotions about this novel and am having difficulty placing a rating on it. As a child growing up in the Cold War era and the saber-rattling threat of nuclear war at the forefront, I was immediately intrigued and drawn into once again visiting the realm of the spy network. I secretly dreamed of being a spy, you know. Confession time too - I actually know someone who was a spy during this time period. :-) So going in, I was immediately pulled into the espionage and intrigue on the sides of the Soviets and the British, their work dancing with one another as they tried to turn the other into double agents. The urgency of the young Soviet spy worrying about his wife back home was palpable, the worry of the aging agents as they tired of the game and looked forward to retirement - but couldn't let their guard down yet, and the myriad of support teams on both sides of the equation as they tried to read one another and discover who was real and who was Memorex. But before a quarter of the way into the story, it was pretty obvious who the turncoat was and then the story blatantly revealed that information - and I didn't like that. Immediately the palpable tension and sense of urgency in the story deflated like a popped balloon and the wind in my sails died out with the revelation. Yes, again it was already obvious, but I feel it would have been so much better if that information had been strung along - like Kevin Costner's character in the movie No Way Out. After that the story merely rambled for me, and I quickly lost interest about events and what happened with the characters. The initial descriptions of the scene and setting were great, giving me a sense of actually being there. However, description at times became overwhelming and rambling about the smallest details that began to detract from the story instead of enhance it. Pacing dragged and made it feel as if I was slogging through heavy, wet concrete. Point of view changed many times within a scene but avoided being jarring most of the time because once it switched hands, it typically stayed in that one head until the next switch within that scene. This could easily be fixed in most cases by simply adding a scene break. I personally feel that would also help speed pacing somewhat by breaking up several overlong chapters. Initially the characters were intriguing, but as the story moved forward they rather lost a sense of depth and seemed to be making decisions or doing things simply because that was the way the story was supposed to go. I could understand if someone did something out of character once or twice, but to change entirely was a bit much. Some motivations felt muddled, as if even they weren't sure why they were doing something but they did it anyway - and most of the time to their own detriment. Most people learn to trust their instincts and respond accordingly (especially trained spies). It left me scratching my head several times that the characters didn't stay true to themselves. I kept reading, though, expecting some big, spectacular finish that maybe I wasn't seeing coming. The end came and went - and I turned off my Kindle feeling even more deflated. When I picked up this novel I expected something along the lines of the aforementioned movie. Sadly it didn't stir me. Were there times when my heart was pumping? Yes. Did I feel like I was present in the location(s)? Yes. Was it intriguing revisiting the Cold War? Yes. And for that I'll settle on a very tentative three star rating.