The Double Game
From the acclaimed author of Layover in Dubai—the story of a journalist’s journey to Vienna, Prague, and Budapest in search of the truth about a spy-turned-novelist’s decades of dark secrets…
“As fiendishly clever a spy story as you could hope for…. A guaranteed delight for any espionage fan.” —The Seattle Times
A few years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, spook-turned-novelist Edwin Lemaster reveals to up-and-coming journalist Bill Cage that he’d once considered spying for the enemy. For Cage, a fan who grew up as a Foreign Service brat in the very cities where Lemaster set his plots, the story creates a brief but embarrassing sensation. More than two decades later, Cage receives an anonymous note hinting that he should have dug deeper. Spiked with cryptic references to some of his and his father’s favorite old spy novels, the note is the first piece of a puzzle that will lead Cage back to Vienna, Prague, and Budapest in search of the truth, even as he discovers that the ghosts of Lemaster’s past eerily—and dangerously—still haunt the present. As the suspense steadily increases, decades of secrets begin to unravel….
The highly accomplished Fesperman (Lie in the Dark), a veteran of the sophisticated, literary novel of intrigue, makes spy fiction a central "character" in this ambitious but overly complex story involving journalist turned PR man Bill Cage. The action opens in 1984, when Cage interviews Edwin Lemaster, a spy who became "the world's premier espionage novelist," and elicits a vague confession: that he might have betrayed his country just "or the thrill of it." Fast forward to 2010 when Cage receives a hand-delivered letter typed on his own stationary and on his own typewriter that promises to deliver "the whole truth" about Lemaster. Cage plays along, deciphering the clue in the first note to find a "dead drop" to receive further instructions. The trail takes him to Vienna, where he had lived as a teenager with his father, a member of the diplomatic corps who might have had a toe in the world of espionage. One clue leads him to a meeting with his old flame, Litzi Strauss, and together they travel to Prague and Budapest. Cage is enveloped in a fog of intrigue, but it feels too much like an elaborate game no real menace, nothing really at stake and the reader's patience wears thin while trying to make sense of the intricately constructed and highly contrived plot. Still, perceptive readers particularly those familiar with the spy literature might still enjoy this beautifully written book. First printing: 40,000.
Satisfying, quick read
A satisfying, quick read. I have relatively limited familiarity with spy novels - primarily compliments of Le Carre. This has inspired my curiosity, and the reading list at the back gives a great indication of where to start.