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The BookBrowse Review

Published September 20, 2017

ISSN: 1930-0018

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Book Jacket

Friends and Traitors
An Inspector Troy Novel
by John Lawton
3 Oct 2017
384 pages
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
ISBN-13: 9780802127068
Critics:
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Friends and Traitors is the eighth novel in the Inspector Troy series - which can be read in any order - a story of betrayal, espionage, and the dangers of love.

London, 1958. Chief Superintendent Frederick Troy of Scotland Yard, newly promoted after good service during Nikita Khrushchev's visit to Britain, is not looking forward to a European trip with his older brother, Rod. Rod has decided to take his entire family on "the Grand Tour" for his fifty-first birthday: a whirlwind of restaurants, galleries, and concert halls from Paris to Florence to Vienna to Amsterdam.

But Frederick Troy only gets as far as Vienna. It is there that he crosses paths with an old acquaintance, a man who always seems to be followed by trouble: British spy turned Soviet agent Guy Burgess. Suffice it to say that Troy is more than surprised when Burgess, who has escaped from the bosom of Moscow for a quick visit to Vienna, tells him something extraordinary: "I want to come home." Troy knows this news will cause a ruckus in London - but even Troy doesn't expect an MI5 man to be gunned down as a result, and Troy himself suspected of doing the deed.

As he fights to prove his innocence, Troy is haunted by more than just Burgess's past liaisons - there is a scandal that goes up to the highest ranks of Westminster, affecting spooks and politicians alike. And the stakes become all the higher for Troy when he reencounters a woman he first met in the Ritz hotel during a blackout? - falling in love is a handicap when playing the game of spies.

"Starred Review. A beguiling interpretation of [Guy] Burgess' life both before and after his defection in 1951 ... With the action jumping back and forth between the late 1950s and the war years, Lawton traces Burgess' flamboyant life... [and] manages to generate considerable suspense in the setup, even though we know Burgess won't be coming in from the cold." - Booklist

"Starred Review. Lawton's portrayal of Burgess as far less dangerous than in most accounts adds to the interest of this smart, fascinating historical thriller." - Publishers Weekly

"Burgess makes a delicious antagonist in this eighth installment in the franchise (A Lily of the Field, 2010, etc.). Lawton, who writes with rueful acumen, puts a human face on the moral and political complexities of the Cold War." - Kirkus

John Lawton is a producer/director in television who has spent much of his time interpreting the USA to the English, and occasionally vice versa. He has worked with Gore Vidal, Neil Simon, Scott Turow, Noam Chomsky, Fay Weldon, Harold Pinter and Kathy Acker. He thinks he may well be the only TV director ever to be named in a Parliamentary Bill in the British House of Lords as an offender against taste and balance – he has also been denounced from the pulpit in Mississippi as a `Communist', but thinks that less remarkable.

He spent most of the 90s in New York – among other things attending the writers' sessions at The Actors' Studio under Norman Mailer – and has visited or worked in more than half the 50 states – since 2000 he has lived in the high, wet hills of Derbyshire England, with frequent excursions into the high, dry hills of Arizona and Italy.

He is the author of 1963, a social and political history of the Kennedy-Macmillan years, six thrillers in the Troy series and a stand-alone novel, Sweet Sunday. In 1995 the first Troy novel, Black Out, won the WH Smith Fresh Talent Award. In 2006 Columbia Pictures bought the fourth Troy novel Riptide. In 2007 A Little White Death was a New York Times noteable. In 2008 he was one of only half a dozen living English writers to be named in the London Daily Telegraph's `50 Crime Writers to Read before You Die.'

He has also edited the poetry of DH Lawrence and the stories of Joseph Conrad. He is devoted to the work of Franz Schubert, Cormac McCarthy, Art Tatum, and Barbara Gowdy.

Then We Take Berlin (2013) is his first novel in the Joe Wilderness series, which was followed by The Unfortunate Englishman in 2016.

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