Red Star Rising: A Thriller by Brian Freemantle
Last seen in 2002’s Kings of Many Castles, working-class British spy Charlie Muffin once again proves that experience and intelligence (on the part of both author and hero) are at least as important as flying fists and explosions in this entertaining entry in Freemantle’s long-running series. When a faceless body turns up on the grounds of the British Embassy in Moscow, Charlie’s superiors send him to Russia to solve the mystery: who’s the corpse and why was he left face down, or rather no face down, in the flower garden? Nothing is as it seems as the Russian authorities wrestle with the British over who has jurisdiction, whose agents are the bigger liars, and whose government is the most underhanded. Charlie isn’t much for action, gunplay, and excitement. In fact, his relationship with his Russian intelligence officer wife, Natalie, and daughter Sasha provides most of the overt suspense, but his slow fitting together of all the pieces related to the crime provides genuine interest.