When I saw that Paul Vidich had taken real-life events and used them as inspiration for An Honorable Man, a dark and twisty Cold-War era spy novel, I rubbed my hands together in anticipation. Now that sounded like something that would be full of the twists and turns I love in spy novels. That era always evokes James Bond style spy shenanigans. Although I would never want to encounter them in real life (Ack!), I have so much fun reading about them. And An Honorable Man certainly delivers. If you like a nail-biting 1950’s era spy novel, then read on…
The Cold War was getting serious by 1953 and keeping lots of people on their toes in Washington, DC. Fears about the gap left by Stalin’s recent death, rumblings from a number of unsettled countries, and Senator Joe McCarthy’s communist witch hunt hearings in the U.S. had the whole nation on edge. People were building bomb shelters under or near their homes and duck-and-cover drills had begun sweeping schools across the U.S. as the fear of nuclear attacks ran people’s lives. It felt like the world could come to an end if someone with an itchy finger on a red button somewhere in the world had a bad day.
As if that isn’t bad enough, the CIA is convinced they have a mole in their ranks – a double agent who’s selling U.S. top-secret information to the Soviet Union. That has agents in literal fear of their lives because a number of anti-Communist field ops have become compromised, and top field agents are being randomly assassinated despite the CIA’s best efforts to protect them. The only info the CIA has been able to get on the double agent so far is that he is known as Protocol. Not only is the entire agency and the country’s most sensitive information at risk, but how humiliating is it to have the top intelligence agency in the country made a fool of?
And that brings us to George Mueller. George was one of the first case officers in the newly formed CIA and has excelled in his work for them. He seems like the perfect person to track down this mole and expose him. George is not just a company man, his dedication to the CIA is unparalleled. He lives his job 24/7, even sacrificing his marriage for his job. The CIA director trusts him above all others. If anyone can ferret out the traitor in their midst, it’s George.
The only problem with this scenario is that no one is perfect and no human deserves to be placed on the kind of thin, fragile pedestal that George is being placed on. George is human like all of the rest of us and, as a human, he has secrets the CIA knows nothing about…secrets that could undermine the entire operation and put him square in the cross-hairs to become a scapegoat – to be falsely accused as being the very mole he’s seeking so diligently. Why? Well, to do his job, he’s got to gain the trust of Soviet agents and to do that, he has to make them believe he can be turned – and that is the perfect set up for him to become accused of being the mole if even the slightest thing doesn’t go according to his plan. And when did anything ever go exactly as planned?
I found George to be a very relatable character, possibly because I also dive into new projects wholeheartedly and give them 100+%. I also have been in situations in which people, for whatever reason, did not want to see me succeed – and that always boggles my mind to some extent, although it never stops me. And that’s probably where my similarities to George end. Still I admire his determination and persistence even when I disagree with some of his tactics. George has been put into a pretty untenable position, yet he’s still determined to make it work. There are plenty of villains in this novel, with lots of hidden agendas and red herrings. I’m not going to disclose any of them because that would spoil the read. You need to uncover them as George does (or doesn’t) – it’s much more fun that way.
When I read a novel like An Honorable Man, I’m always amazed to find out that it’s a debut novel. Paul Vidich has written a number of short stories, so he’s no neophyte, and he has hit one out of the park with An Honorable Man. This dark and twisty story kept me biting my nails while glued to every page. I literally couldn’t put it down. Sleep? Who needs sleep when there’s a double agent out there who could destroy everything? If you like a good spy novel, then I’m recommending this one!
Want to know more about the Cold War Era? Below is a fun video about what the Cold War has bequeathed to us.
Can’t wait to read it? An Honorable Man will be published on April 12, 2016; however, it’s available now for pre-order from your favorite online bookseller. If you order it now, you’ll have it the instant it’s published!
I’d love to get your feedback on An Honorable Man, Paul Vidich and/or his other work, and/or this review!