‘Cold War spy fiction in the grand tradition, neatly plotted betrayals in that shadow world where no one can be trusted and agents are haunted by their own moral compromises.’ - Joseph Kanon, New York Times bestselling author of Istanbul Passage and The Good German
Washington D. C., 1953. The Cold War is heating up: McCarthyism, with all its fear and demagoguery, is raging in the nation's capital, and Joseph Stalin's death has left a dangerous power vacuum in the Soviet Union.
The CIA, meanwhile, is reeling from a double agent within their midst. Someone is selling secrets to the Soviets, compromising missions around the globe. Undercover agents have been assassinated, and anti-Communist plots are being cut short in ruthlessly efficient fashion. The CIA director knows any news of the traitor, whose code name is Protocol, would be a national embarrassment and compromise the entire agency.
George Mueller seems to be the perfect man to help find the mole: Yale-educated; extensive experience running missions in Eastern Europe; an operative so dedicated to his job that it left his marriage in tatters. The Director trusts him. Mueller, though, has secrets of his own, and as he digs deeper into the case, making contact with a Soviet agent, suspicion begins to fall on him as well. Until Protocol is found, no one can be trusted, and everyone is at risk.
‘As I read An Honorable Man, I kept coming back to George Smiley and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. That’s how good this book is. Pick up this book. You’ll love it.’ – Michael Harvey, New York Times-bestselling author of The Chicago Way and The Governor’s Wife
Set in Washington, D.C., in 1953, Vidich's well-written first novel is long on atmosphere but short on narrative momentum. George Mueller, who's at a turning point in his CIA career, feels his sense of purpose, forged during WWII, is being eroded, but he has a real mission: looking for a traitor within the CIA known by the code name Protocol. The agency has identified 20 suspects, and the plan is to turn a Russian agent to help find the spy. This promising setup gets bogged down in a morass of plotting, including a longish digression about a senator resembling Joseph McCarthy. The pace picks up in the latter third of the book when the backstory and description give way to an intelligent, old-fashioned spy thriller. Fans of John le Carr will appreciate the backroom, clubby old-boy network that seemed to define spying in the 1950s. Vidich, a founder and publisher of the Storyville App, discusses his historical sources in an informative afterword.
The Third Man, The Fifth Man?
This is a great spy story as the CIA hunt for a traitor in Washington against the background of the McCarthy investigations and the death of Stalin. Tautly written with some convincing action scenes reminiscent of the Orson Welles masterpiece the book although very American will resonate with British readers wondering about the identity of the Fifth Man or even the Sixth.