When the Iron Curtain fell in 1989 all of Europe enjoyed a symbolic group hug. The infertile prophecies of Marx and the paralyzing political threats of Engels had not only come up short for the Soviet Union, it caused the country to be trapped in stifling economic hibernation for almost a century. After the European love-in otherwise known as the fall of the Iron Curtain, Russia had the Augean task of a national makeover of an unparalleled scale. On Russia’s short to-do list was to completely overhaul its economy, invent a new political structure from scratch, and keep its country unified while trying to retain its national identity after the erosive cultural ravages of the communist system.
One of the most vital unifying factors that facilitated Russia’s survival past those daunting times was the strong-arm internal security agency known as the KGB, who were loaded for bear as it were. Some would fancy the KGB did an excellent job in the transition of the Soviet Union into its new era. Others would fancy that the KGB are still doing an excellent job. In Red to Black, Alex Dryden entertains the idea that not only is the vestige of the Soviet Union known as the KGB still operational today, it’s behind a unsettling conspiracy that reaches across Europe and around the globe.
Now for a short debriefing about the main agents of the saga. Finn is a cool and indefatigable seasoned British agent of MI6 stationed in Moscow who acts as a British Second Secretary of Trade and Investment. He is a pragmatist who is true to himself, a lone wolf in patriot’s clothing. Anna is a top notch spy and colonel in the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service with family ties to the KGB who is assigned to keep an eye on the British agent. For those of you who are familiar with the cloak and dagger swagger of 007, Anna acts as a sort of Tatiana Romanova to Finn’s James Bond, but the parallels of characters in Alex Dryden’s Red to Black to Ian Fleming’s From Russia With Love mainly stop there. Fleming’s capricious set of characters in his James Bond serials are somewhat contrary to the sober characters that populate Dryden’s work. The spooks in Red to Black are more realistic, yet just as captivating as anything you’d find in Fleming.