If you like spy stories that feel like they could be real, with a healthy dash of paranoia and conspiracy theory thrown in then you might like Red to Black.
Released in 2009, it is set from 1999 to 2006. Finn is a British spy stationed in Moscow. Anna is a young KGB agent tasked with trapping him. But Finn is well aware of her task. And she is well aware of his knowledge of her task.
The story unfolds very slowly. This is a book that requires paying attention and being willing for the story to take years (at least on the page) to unfold.
Alex Dryden is a pseudonym for an unknown British journalist. And it is clear why (she/he) wants to remain anonymous, because this is a screed against the very real Putin. And only a little less against Western European governments that work with him.
The story is about how the KGB (which used to be headed by Putin) is syphoning off tons of money into Western Europe for unknown projects. Finn is trying to find out what they are and build the case. But none of the official channels want him to. And Anna is playing a dangerous game both in actually loving Finn and in trying to satisfy her own superiors.
I didn’t think Red to Black was a great book. It was too long and dry in places. But it was a good spy story. Good spy stories need to feel like they could be real, whether or not they are. And this feels like it could be real. Like Putin really is plotting something big. It is especially interesting now that Putin is back in power. In 2009 when this was written Putin has stepped down because he was constitutionally unable to continue being President because of term limits. But in 2011 the law was changed both extending the term of presidency and changing the limits and Putin won another six year term in 2012.
So maybe the story really is true 🙂