Monday, August 17, 2009
Mini-Review of "Tsar" by Ted Bell
I am a sucker for any good fiction written about Russia. In his latest novel, "Tsar," Ted Bell has done a great job of feeding my habit. This latest work is a follow-up to his New York Times bestseller "Spy."
The feel of this book is a bit like the works of Ludlum, LeCarre and Alan Furst. The protagonist, the James Bond-like espionage agent par excellence, Alex Hawke, faces the growing threat of a new Cold War between Russia and the West. A stealth leader has emerged in Moscow determined to recreate both the glories of the tsarist era and the cohesive power of the Soviet bloc.
I find Bell's storytelling to be enjoyable and very readable. He has a wonderful sense of place, whether the place be the beaches and mansions of Bermuda, the halls of the Kremlin or the windswept steppes of rural Russia. He has a good ear for crisp dialogue. He uses very cleverly the insertion of historical figures into his fictional spy tale. There is a scene in which a deposed Vladimir Putin shares a jail cell with Hawke. Their conversation and the subsequent events add wonderful twists to the plot.