the guardian Fri 18 September 2009
Alex Dryden's second novel genuflects to early John le Carré and, less fashionably, Frederick Forsyth: in one set piece, a sniper attempts to assassinate a Russian oligarch while he watches a football match at a stadium over a mile away. Grouchy MI6 head Adrian Carew wants revenge for the murder of one of his own, ex-spook Finn, whose corpse was found with a note attached to it: "You betrayed him in life. Honour him in death." Meanwhile, a renegade CIA operative, Logan, is on the trail of Finn's lover, a former KGB colonel who may be the only link to an informer MI6 cut loose when the UK decided it wanted to be Putin's friend after all; an informer it now desperately needs back in the fold. Dryden worked in intelligence for many years and dramatises his concern about Moscow's expansionist ambitions with skill and conviction.