- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
- Format: Hardback | 560 pages
- Dimensions: 160mm x 238mm x 46mm | 762g
- Publication date: 7 July 2011
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 1847375677
- ISBN 13: 9781847375674
- Sales rank: 145,381
Former Soviet Secret Service agent Leo Demidov has built himself a new life as a civilian with his wife Raisa, and their two teenage daughters, Elena and Zoya. The Soviet Union is a country trying to reassert itself after the murderous excesses of Stalin and the chaos of the following years, and as the Cold War continues powers inside Russia seek to topple their great enemy, the United States of America. Communist allies within the United States will prove vital players in this game of intrigue and revolution. Raisa and their two daughters travel to the United States on a diplomatic mission, but a horrifying tragedy destroys everything Leo and Raisa have built. Leo must get to the States somehow and find out what happened. Exiled from the Soviet Union and separated from his family, Leo's quest takes him through the stark wilderness of Afghanistan, reawakening all his old instincts and forcing him to confront his demons. But whatever it costs, wherever he must go, he will find Agent 6.
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Tom Rob Smith was born in l979 to a Swedish mother and an English father and was brought up in London where he still lives. He graduated from Cambridge in 2001 and spent a year in Italy on a creative writing scholarship. Tom has worked as a screenwriter for the past five years, including a six-month stint in Phnom Penh storylining Cambodia's first ever soap. His first novel, CHILD 44, was longlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the inaugural Desmond Elliott Prize, and won the Crime Writers' Association's Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for best adventure/thriller novel of 2008, and the American edition won Best Debut at the International Thriller Awards and Best Debut at the Strand Magazine awards.
By Marleen Kennedy 07 Jul 2011
Book reviewed for Book Dagger's Real Readers programme. I received a beautiful limited edition bound proof copy which was both signed and numbered.
Before I start on my thoughts on this book I have to stress that although I did read Child 44 I never got around to reading The Secret Script, therefore I read Agent 6 out of order which may or may not have influenced the reading experience.
The story in Agent 6 starts in 1950 with a visit from a Black American singer, Jesse Austin, a big supporter of communism, to Moscow. It is also the time when Leo Demidov meets the love of his life and wife to be, Raisa.
The story then jumps ahead 15 years to 1965 when we find Leo no longer working as a secret agent and living quietly and happily with his wife and two daughters. But, although Leo is happy to have left politics and conspiracies behind him, it seems that politics are not done with him and his family yet.
When is wife and two daughters travel to the United States as part of an orchestra organised as an effort to relax relations between the USA and the USSR, Leo has his suspiscions. But even in his worst nightmares Leo could not have foreseen the disastrous outcome of the trip. An outcome that will leave him heartbroken. Unable to investigate what happened in America and not believing the official version of events, Leo desends into dispair.
Seven years later we find Leo in Afghanistan, managing to stay alive against the odds and addicted to opium. When he finds an opportunity to at last investigate the events that destroyed his life he takes it, but the question is, will the answers he finds set him free?
Tom Rob Smith is a wonderful writer. His words flow with an ease that makes his stories an almost effortless read. The pages are virtually turning themselves as the reader shares Leo's pain, dispair and need for answers.
Having said that, the subject matter is defenitely not an easy one. The horrors of the Sovjet regime in the USSR and the subsequent horrors in Afghanistan make for bleak reading, all the more so because they sound so very authentic. I found myself on several occassions wondering how anyone could possibly live under such circumstances, how I would deal with life if forced to live under such a regime, consequently making me very aware how lucky I am to live where I do, taking all my liberties for granted.
Although I did find the whole section in the book set in Afghanistan fascinating in a gruesome sort of way, I do feel that the story could have done with that part being shorter. While it did give a good insight into the level of Leo's pain, it didn't add a lot if anything to the solving of the mystery at the centre of the story other than provide a means for Leo to get to America.
Overall I thought this a fascinating and very well written book that could have done with being a little bit shorter. Therefore I rate this book 4.5 stars.
'Smith is superb at evoking the day-to-day realities and bitter ironies of the cold war... immaculately researched sections are individually pungent and powerful' Andrzej Lukowski , METRO 7/7 'It's an amazing story full of intrigue and espionage that you won't want to put down' Kim Metcalf, Essentials August Issue Praise for Agent 6 'Smith is superb at evoking the day-to-day realities and bitter ironies of the cold war... immaculately researched sections are individually pungent and powerful.' Andrzej Lukowski, Metro, 7 July 2011 'It's an amazing story full of intrigue and espionage that you won't want to put down.' Kim Metcalf, Essentials August Issue 'Smith remainsa brilliant depicter of the past' --John Dugdale, Sunday Times, 24 July 2011 'Tense and moving' 5 star review --Heat Magazine, 2 July 2011 'One of the most anticipated reads this summer, Demidov fans won't be disappointed' --Attitude, August Issue 'It is a deeply movig piece of work; even information dumps are shot through with emotion... Agent 6 is something far greater than a rank and file thriller' --BookGeek.co.uk