Schmacko's Reviews > Agent 6

Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith
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May 24, 12

Read in May, 2012

Tom Rob Smith’s newest book strays away from the darkness – the Stalinist paranoia – that made his first, Child 44, so good. Instead, this is a more meandering international thriller that brings Russia and Smith’s Russian hero Leo Demidov into modern times. Because the sickness of the serial killer is absent, this is a little less thrilling. The threats of the KGB are also weaker. Think slightly watered down John Le Carre.

Leo and his wife Raisa are raising their two daughters when a unique opportunity is offered the family. Raisa and the girls are invited to go to New York City to sing a peace-offering concert. In the US, tragedy strikes the family, and Demidov spends the next 3 decades trying to find answers and exact revenge.

This means the book wanders through most of the Cold War, focusing a large portion on Russia’s war with Afghanistan. It’s politically interesting, but this long section loses the drive of Leo’s quest. It takes a long time to fit all these pieces together, and even then, the novel feels a little disjointed and lacking in drive.

Still, Smith writes fascinating stuff – if a little undirected. His grasp of Stalinist Russia and world history is fascinating. It’s just a little undirected. Also, I like when Smith claims the darkness; this one was more in line with other writers who, I just feel, have done more distinct and driven work.
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