This fact-based Cold War thriller pits Yuri Andropov in his first year as head of the KGB against agents of the CIA and DIA. Andropov and his henchman, Viktor Feklenko, operate a multifaceted conspiracy in three areas of world conflict.
First, in Vietnam, Bill Dubrowski of the DIA is very narrowly escapes assassination by operatives manipulated by Feklenko. Dubrowski survives and learns the possible motive for the attempt on his life. He carries this information and the first implications of the larger plot back to Washington and his chief, Brigadier General George Anton.
Second, in a related operation of the KGB’s First Chief Directorate, the guerrilla movement of Che Guevara receives the impact of Andropov’s directive. The Soviet leadership despises Guevara for his anti-Soviet statements and self-proclaimed role in leading direct-action revolutionary movements outside the Russian orbit. Both Guevara and his movement in Bolivia are to be undermined by the KGB. Coldly, Che must be stopped, sacrificed and martyred.
Finally, the third area of conflict, in Washington, the fragments of information rising to the top of the intelligence bureaucracies from Bolivia and Vietnam set off an internecine war of major proportions between the CIA and DIA. This battle is complicated by a KGB asset hidden under CIA cover, a mole, Leeland Uhle, who works to tip the balance in this war of estimates toward the objectives of the USSR. Uhle distorts facts and diverts information from military sources until forced into a more active, open and exposed role.
The climax of the struggle emerges from the protagonist’s enlightenment and discovery of the real plot conceived by Andropov and the KGB. Though the source of the disinformation and the devious efforts of the mole are resolved by his death at the hands of Feklenko’s ‘wet work’ men, the demise of the traitor does not deflect the KGB’s machinations. The political defeat of President Johnson in 1968, his replacement on the world stage, and the subsequent realignment in power favorable to Soviet interests, are the spoils of the Andropov victory.
This fast, well-written novel replays a crucial year in Cold War confrontation to a stunning conclusion that captures and enthralls readers interested in the world of soldiers and spies.