Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith

July 18, 2011

Agent 6 is the follow-up novel to Child 44 and  The Secret Speech, by Tom Rob Smith, involving the character Leo Demidov. It can be read standalone with no knowledge of the prior novels. It is set in the Soviet Union in the time following Stalin’s brutal regime and during the years of the cold war. This was a time of great political conflict and military tension where the Soviet Union and the United States of America saw each other as enemies to each others way of life.

Leo Demidov is a former Soviet Secret Service agent. He left the life because he fell in love with his wife, Raisa and has two teenage daughters, Elena and Zoya. At the beginning of the story we are shown what life has been like for him as a Secret Service Agent, his dark past and how he has been living in shadows until he met his wife. We then jump forward 15 years and Raisa and his daughters are travelling to the United States on a diplomatic mission, where singing is going to be used to build a bridge between the two countries.

Unfortunately while they are there a devastating tragedy happens that has a profound effect on the life Leo has built up with his wife. Leo is determined to find out what actually happened, but getting to the United States is going to be a real challenge. He ends up in Afghanistan, dulling his pain with opium, until events conspire to reawaken his old instincts and set him back on the path to the United States and the quest for revenge.

I really enjoyed this book. From the start you are caught up in the atmosphere of what it must have been like living in the Soviet Union in those days, having to watch your back as the slightest  word out of place could be misconstrued. You are given an understanding of how difficult it was in those days to travel out of the Soviet Union, one member of your group was always a KGB agent and you did not always know who. You can feel the sense of menace.  The section set in Afghanistan is set in the early eighties where the Soviet Union is caught up in a war. Leo is acting as an advisor to the Soviet Forces.   This is not a time I know much about and it made compelling reading.  I was caught up in the characters and had to read on to find out what happened at the end. I am looking forward to reading other books by this author.

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