Set in 1989 during the revolution against the Communist leadership in Romania, this story follows a CIA analyst as he visits Bucharest and tries to make contact with a Russian agent who has been sending him information. Bill Hefflin majored in economics and was recruited into the agency from college, but he has been singled out as the contact for a KGB mole code-named Boris. At the insistence of Boris, Hefflin returns to the city of his childhood and is caught up in the growing unrest and rioting. The story alternates between the events in 1989, his memories of growing up in Bucharest, and his college years and recruitment in the U.S.
The description of conditions in Romania bring the recent past back to life - corruption, food shortages, informers, and the game of spycraft played out with life or death consequences. Hefflin's grooming and recruitment make readers wonder - is that really how it was done? Is it still done that way today? How much oversight of agents and their activities is there? Can all these groups (CIA, KGB, Romanian Securitate) actually manipulate events for their own purposes as pervasively as happens in the book?
In the author's note Maz states that he himself was born in Bucharest and came to the U.S. as a young boy. "Even thirty years after the Romanian revolution of 1989, the questions of how it started and why it became so violent have never been adequately answered. This novel provides a plausible scenario based on the facts as I know them." he writes. This is a work of historical fiction, an espoinage thriller, and a love story all wrapped up in one bundle.
Viewers who enjoyed the movie "Atomic Blonde" may get the same feeling from this book of the various world powers working behind the scenes and the residents of the affected cities dealing with the aftermath of the power plays.
I read an advance copy provided by the publisher for review purposes.