Saturday, July 6, 2013
The Double Game by Dan Fesperman
A few years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, spook-turned-novelist Edwin Lemaster revealed to up-and-coming journalist Bill Cage that he’d once considered spying for the enemy. For Cage, a Foreign Service brat who grew up in the very cities where Lemaster’s books were set, the news story created a brief but embarrassing sensation and heralded the beginning of the end of his career in journalism.
More than two decades later, Cage, now a lonely, disillusioned PR man, receives an anonymous note hinting that he should have dug deeper into Lemaster’s pronouncement. Spiked with cryptic references to some of Cage’s favorite spy novels, the note is the first of many literary bread crumbs that lead him back to Vienna, Prague, and Budapest, each instruction drawing him closer to the complex truth, each giving rise to more questions: Why is beautiful Litzi Strauss back in his life after thirty years? How much of his father’s job involved the CIA? As the events of Lemaster’s past eerily—and dangerously—begin intersecting with those of Cage’s own, a “long stalemate of secrecy” may finally be coming to an end.
I was pleasantly surprised by this novel- after a painfully slow start that made me question my choice, the plot hit its stride when Bill starts to delve into his past life as a Foreign Service brat in Cold War Europe. Fesperman demonstrates an encyclopedic knowledge of both classic and obscure spy novels throughout this book, and I really enjoyed the whole books-within-a-book plot. Things get a bit complicated and some of the coincidences seems a bit contrived, but I think most spy novels bump into that issue at some point. All in all, an enjoyable romp through the golden age of espionage.