Throughout the ’80s during the Cold War, both Super Powers had agents, as well as counter agents, feeding information both real and fabricated. Valery Sevastoposky came to Washington D. C. to work in the Soviet Embassy as a case officer. His job was to hang around hoping to encounter someone with value as an asset to the KGB. It became a game getting bits and pieces of information, sometimes through greed, other times given due to a certain ideology. Most of what was learned had little of significant value in comparison to the amount of time entailed in the retrieval. There was one exception to this: a mole in the CIA known only as Badger. Valery was his handler through his years in Washington, but when he was sent back to Russia that duty fell on others of the KGB.
In the ’90s everything in the Soviet Union began to fall apart. Beginning with Gorbachev, and moving on to Yeltsin, things began changing quickly. For months Valery could see that things were not going well for the KGB, and he prepared himself. Making his escape just before the coup of both the military and the KGB, setting up a broken trail so as not to be followed, he made his way back to the Washington D.C. area to start a new life. His journey leads him to Little Odessa, and he begins working with the Russian Mafia. It is here that he meets the man known only as Fungo on the streets, who becomes his best friend and confident. Beginning his new life calls for a new name, and he has prepared himself well under his new identity as George Seevast.
Little Odessa has quite a reputation and during his tenure working in the area, George has been approached first by a police officer, looking to get information on Little Odessa gang networks. Fighting amongst themselves leaves some heinous crimes on both sides and the police are anxious to solve the murders. He is also approached by the FBI who have tagged him as a former Soviet spy which he denies, leaving him in the sights of both organizations.
Living under the radar he has had no concerns with the previous entity known as the Badger, but now that he has had contact with two different agencies it creates concerns for George. The Badger is high up in government; George knew that rather then risk exposure, Badger would kill him. It all comes down to a phone call, one directly to him from Badger. Has George escaped his country only to be hunted down and terminated here on American soil? Will he be able to use his new contacts to help him dig up Badger’s identity before it is too late?
Jim Wygant takes us back in The Spy’s Demise to a time when worry and fear were the daily meal of the day. The two largest superpowers fought for supremacy trying at all costs to outdo the other. He has introduced a plot, one that could have very well played out in this time in history. Valery, now known as George, has worked and believed in the KGB his entire career. In the novel you follow the trail of an Ex-KGB spy and learn about him, not as a product of the Soviet Union but as a man. He is initially almost invisible, not much of a personality, but as the story unfolds his personality changes and he grows stronger. As he begins to use his background to unlock the secrets of the Badger, he again takes on the role of a spy. His entire goal now is to flush out this mole to save his own life, and to close a channel that is long past due. He uses his new resources in the FBI and the Police more as a sounding board, having difficulty getting anyone to believe him.
The plots and plans he puts together are cagey and imaginative, but he is in a new country on his own, going up against a top government official. His life is in danger at every turn. You have to admire his tenacity, and hope that he makes it though.
I enjoyed The Spy’s Demise, though it started out slow for me. The beginning was filled with a great deal of detail, but as soon as George left Russia, I began to get interested in what he was doing and where he was going. As he grew and gained more character the book just took off, keeping the pace tight and fast.
This would be a great book for a book club, riddled as it is with information about a time in history that most Americans are very familiar with.