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by Ross Thomas
St Martin's, May 2003
214 pages
ISBN: 0312315813

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

For those of us old enough to remember the Cold War and the Berlin Wall, THE COLD WAR SWAP is a blast from the past. We first meet Mac McCorkle on an airplane on his way to the Cologne-Bonn airport from Berlin. Mac meets Herr Maas on the plane. Maas just happens to be going to Bonn and amazingly enough has an appointment to meet a man at Macs Place, the bar McCorkle and his partner, Michael Padillo own. Being a nice guy, McCorkle gives Maas a ride to the bar. Not long after Maas arrives and takes a seat at a table with another man, two men enter the bar wearing white handkerchiefs over their faces and proceed to place 4 shots into the heart of the man with Maas. McCorkle calls the police and Padillo takes one of his business trips. Mac receives a message from Padillo several days later asking for his help.

Make no mistake, this is a tightly woven, carefully constructed thriller with plenty of twists and turns. There is plenty of action, murder, and double crosses before the cold war swap can be successfully completed. This is a refreshing, entertaining, heart pounding adventure without the extreme language and gruesome details that seem so prevalent today. Thomas creates a detailed world rife with many layered intrigues and immensely personable, unpredictable characters with hidden agendas. Even the villains are sympathetic characters. He uses language and humor to conjure up the mood, time and place. While this is a story about the Cold War, many of the thoughts expressed by the characters, the political overtones that Thomas writes about, apply to international politics today.

Ross Thomas died in 1995. THE COLD WAR SWAP was first published in 1966 when Thomas was 40 and it won the Edgar award for best first novel. Between his death and 2002, his novels went out of print and St. Martinšs is now reissuing them and I hope St. Martinšs will take more care with typographical errors in future editions. Stuart Kaminsky wrote the introduction for this edition of THE COLD WAR SWAP.

Reviewed by Lane Wright, June 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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