Spy Story

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Pat Morley, last seen in A PRESENT FOR SANTA, is a retired CIA agent whose patriotism is unaffected by his pursuit of the quiet life. Thus, when his old boss informs him that the KGB has a mole high in the councils of power he is quick to answer the call. It will not be an easy task, to say the least. The mole has been in place for decades and his identity is a carefully guarded secret. Still, Morley is able to benefit from the defection of a disgruntled but knowledgeable KGB officer who knows more about the mysterious Russian agent than even he is aware.

Thus begins yet another tale of the “great game” as the CIA and KGB engage in a serious and quite deadly game of tag. The Russians must not only prevent Morley from unmasking their agent but also eliminate Morley and the KGB defector and cast suspicion elsewhere in the bargain. For his part, Morley must stay alive, protect his Russian source, and cut through the mass of disinformation to determine the truth. The list of suspects is long, and the Russians are pulling out all the stops in a last-ditch effort to preserve their agent.

SPY STORY is a rather clever and at times intriguing example of the genre. Pat Morley is a resourceful, virtuous, albeit ammoral, dedicated anti-communist in the finest tradition of Cold War fiction. Burke writes very much in the fashion of Ted Allbeury and Colin Forbes, and that is to his credit. On the other hand, he tends to manipulate his characters in a rather mechanical fashion, and the reader is thereby deprived of the emotional involvement which is a feature of the better writing in this area.