Edward Wilson - The Envoy
"...the effects of one moment in time reverberate down the generations."
In 1950s London, Kit Fournier is both diplomat at the US embassy and CIA Chief of Station. At a time of rising tension with Russia, London is awash with KGB, CIA and its own home grown agents.
When Kit is asked by his KGB contact to help them in a plot to undermine the work of MI6 he readily agrees. Not only are alliances forged to reflect what will best advance the interests of the Unites States, the lines of sexual and personal morality are so blurred that Kit does not have the inclination to refuse anything that will help his career. This personal vacuum is most obvious when dealing with his cousin Jennifer. Jealous of her English husband and her obvious contentment he contemplates pulling them into his subterfuge to further his own ends.
But Jennifer has a few surprises up her sleeve and soon it is not a case of whose side you are on, but how much of your soul you are prepared to sacrifice.
This is an excellent spy novel full of period detail.
Edward Wilson writes well about both American culture and English life, reflecting perhaps his own background. Readedrs will get a strong sense of the paranoia of the time and of the amorality existing alongside apparent conformity.
The character of Kit Fournier is satisfyingly complex. His obsession with his beautiful cousin is both romantic and pathetic and it provides an excellent backdrop to the story. The character of Jennifer is harder to grasp, but in fact this is an essential element of the story, given how the narrative develops.
You are left with a sense of ruined lives and secrets that have been buried so deep that the truth is unfathomable. It is a stroke of genius by the author to continue the narrative to the present day. It allows the reader to see how the effects of one moment in time reverberate down the generations.
Reviewed by: S.W.