On the shelf: ‘Agent 6’ by Tom Rob Smith

By Lisa Boss, GRPL-Main

The final novel of Tom Rob Smith’s Soviet trilogy (Child 44, The Secret Speech), Agent 6 spans the time from the Cold War through the Soviet Union’s disastrous invasion of Afghanistan. Smith’s combination of a lightning plot and a cautionary tale, added to the history and psychology, create an engrossing read.

Leo Demidou, former KGB agent, has tried to put past regrets behind him, and now lives for his wife and daughters. When they take part in a goodwill trip to the U.S. and his wife is the victim of a terrible incident, Leo vows to find out the truth. His attempts to get to the bottom of this deep-rooted scheme entwine throughout the rest of the book, although he has been banished to Afghanistan.

The complicated plot races along, with Leo reminiscent of a Camus or Kafka anti-hero struggling in his bleak universe. The irony of Leo’s Afghan assignment is that he is to help create a secret police force for them when he has come to believe in the malignant harm it does to a society. He sees his younger self in the idealistic young woman who is his chief aide, and believes fully in the destruction needed to create a new order.