“…we discovered that JFK and his brother had a never-before-revealed plan to stage a coup against Castro on December 1, 1963…The Mafia dons used parts of the secret coup plan to try and assassinate JFK first in Chicago, then in Tampa, and finally in Dallas. By planting evidence implicating Castro, the mob bosses prevented Robert Kennedy and other key officials from conducting a thorough investigation…”
No one walks away unscathed from a chase that involves semi-jumping, a fifty mile-per-hour car crash, and a gunshot wound, but Salt does. No one gets away with this kind of double agency, but Salt does. The requisite “walking away from a massive explosion in slow motion while chanting choir music throbs beneath the basso thumping” scene is here, as are the outlandish government conspiracy theories.
Stephen King said that Olen Steinhauer’s spy book, The Tourist, is “the best spy novel I’ve ever read that wasn’t written by John le Carré.” Here’s the good news—The Nearest Exit, a continuation of that same story, is no letdown (though the background gained in reading that first book makes the first 100 pages of this one much more manageable).
It was the goings-on, the kleptocracy that emerged, the sheer blatant thuggery of Putin’s entourage, the vandalism and looting that commenced after 1989, related by Tretyakov, that finally discouraged him, a professional through and through and a Russian patriot. The principles that led to his flight into the cloaking arms of the CIA and FBI are suggestive: leaving behind all his property and possessions, amounting to about two million dollars, was worth it because in his view Russia was ruined and things had gone beyond any hope of redemption in his lifetime. He wanted his daughter to grow up a free woman.
Nor, it seems, do Americans get out of their diplomatic fortress the way they used to. Italians say they do not have the American friends and acquaintances that they used to. What do embassy officers do with their time? Like many professionals in this country, they spend hours in front of computer screens, busy with e-mail. That may be work, but it has little to do with representing the United States.