Title: The Traitor’s Story
Author: Kevin Wignall
Publication: Thomas & Mercer, trade paperback, 2016
Audience: Fans of thrillers. I read a lot of suspense but not that much espionage and am glad I made an effort to get this one.
What I liked: This is a fast paced and enjoyable story; perfect for summer reading and carries the reader along with sufficient speed to overlook a few holes in the plot. The story is set up in alternating chapters between the puzzling present and the darkness of the past, leading dramatically to what really happened on that final weekend in Kaliningrad. Finn is an interesting character: at first extremely cold and not very likeable. He has reinvented himself as a bestselling historian who gets recognized in airports by fans (not sure this really happens to anyone but David McCullough or Ken Burns, but it’s a nice touch) and his insight to Hailey’s disappearance is intriguing. He is at his best when interacting with her quirky classmate Jonas but otherwise has no friends and has alienated his live-in girlfriend without even noticing. He evolves during the book but it seems clear that he could not move on emotionally from the events of six years earlier until all the remaining questions are resolved (except one that the author shares with the reader at the very end).
What I disliked: Although this is a well thought out novel, the motivation of several characters was perplexing and Finn’s patriotism or lack thereof is never fully explained. Also, if his enemies hold a grudge, why not just kill him? On another issue, it was very surprising that several characters say, “Me and X” – I hate grammatical errors was amazed a British writer would get this wrong. Thomas & Mercer is an Amazon imprint but I thought there were actual editors so these errors should have been corrected in manuscript.
Other reading: If you want to read some classic spy novels, try this list (got to love the comparison of The Riddle of the Sand to Swallows & Amazons). In addition, Wignall has written several other books that look appealing, such as A Death in Sweden.
Source: I got The Traitor’s Story from the Norwood, MA library after reading a glowing review in Publishers Weekly, and recommend it.