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by Alex Dryden
Harper Collins, September 2009
373 pages
ISBN: 0061803863

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Although Alex Dryden has created a spy thriller with a heart-racing plot and sizzling romance, the real reason to read this novel is to understand just what post-Cold War Russian politics are all about. RED TO BLACK strips off the veneer of a Western alliance with Russia to show Vladimir Putin for the man he is--a trained KGB mastermind who has once more put the KGB on top of the political food chain in Russia.

The story begins with a crafty MI6 agent, who is a problem to his own British handlers. Finn has "gone over the line" despite his record success as a British agent operating in the new Russia. He's got an inside link with the Kremlin, who has been divulging some secrets that will rock the core of Europe, if anyone chooses to pay attention. Although Finn has tried to share some of this information, neither his own government nor that of the Germans seem interested in what the Russians are planning. There appears to be corruption at the highest levels, and Finn wants only to expose these banking secrets for what they are.

Add to this mix one Russian KGB colonel, a honey pot, Anna, who dogs Finn's trail and eventually gets under his skin, although not in a way that anyone could have foreseen. Finn has fallen in love with Anna, but he refuses to embroil her in his research any more than necessary. This doesn't make it any easier for Anna, whose handlers at the KGB who wonder if she is turning to the other side, despite her father's prestigious position among Moscow's elite.

Like any good researcher of corruption, MI6 operative Finn knows to "follow the money" once he learns of "the Plan," a plot so secretive that even Anna had not been told of its existence. Ultimately, this KGB push to shift the balance of power will set off alarm bells for readers. Says author Alex Dryden, "In a real sense, the West has taken their eyes off Russia." Reading this novel will make the compellingly clear.

With recent, new developments to scrap the proposed missile defense shield in Eastern Europe and the West's own money woes, the storyline used in RED TO BLACK becomes even more worrying. The story has shades of recent KGB movements in Europe as well, from poisoning agents and disappearing journalists, to corrupt banking officials and government-run gun running and drug trafficking.

What Alex Dryden has done with his novel is nothing short of sending a warning shot over the bow. Whether anyone in the West pays attention may be another matter. This book should be mandatory reading for anyone who thinks the Cold War is over or that Russia will go quietly into the night. RED TO BLACK is brilliant, important, and ultimately a frightening tale of the new Europe.

Reviewed by Christine Zibas, October 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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