An Honorable Man
For fans of Alan Furst and John le Carré comes An Honorable Man, a chilling Cold War spy thriller set in postwar Washington, DC that Kirkus Reviews called, “noir to the bone.”
Washington DC, 1953. The Cold War is heating up; McCarthyism, in 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 the discovery of a double agent within their midst. Someone is selling secrets to the Soviets, compromising missions and endangering lives around the globe. The CIA director knows any news of the traitor, whose code name is Protocol, would be a national embarrassment and weaken the entire agency. He assembles an elite team to find Protocol.
George Mueller seems to be the perfect man to help the investigation: Yale-educated; extensive experience running missions in Eastern Europe; an operative so dedicated to his job that it left his marriage in tatters. 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. Paranoia and fear spreads and until Protocol is found, no one can be trusted.
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.