Defectors, by Joseph Kanon

Reviewed by Jim McCarthy

Occasionally, it’s a good thing for a blog that tends to be serious to reveal its lighter side and share its interest in fiction, especially police procedurals and spy tales. Defectors is set in Russia in 1961, with Francis Gary Powers of U2 fame along with Guy Burgess of Cambridge/MI6, the Rosenbergs, KGB, and assorted other crypto figures. The Weeks brothers, Frank and Simon, former OSS/CIA members, reunite in Moscow, where Simon is to interview Frank for a tell-something book about his defection to the Soviets. Simon is a publisher’s representative assigned to vet his brother’s tale.

A fling at marital infidelity, a loveless marriage, a couple of murders and a devious double-cross defection scenario juice up the intrigues. Kanon employs a Hemingwayesque writing style of staccato communication among the players to maintain and sustain the furtive character of defectors now in the confines of Russian hegemony. Simon’s internal musings provide connective tissue to the twists and turns. All of these factors in confluence tended to mitigate against a somewhat disappointing ending. We’ll try at least one more Kanon work while assigning three of five stars to Defectors.

Categories: Book Review, Issues, National

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