Cover image of "The Moscow Club," a spy thriller

Looking for a spy thriller that might keep you up at night? If you suspend disbelief, as science fiction writers ask you to do, you may enjoy this intricately plotted thriller from Joseph Finder, one of America’s best contemporary novelists of suspense. For starters, you’ll need to imagine a brilliant young CIA analyst with a near-eidetic memory who is also, though untrained, accomplished in hand-to-hand combat, picking locks, and repairing cars. Oh, and he’s devilishly handsome to boot and is married to a rising young network TV reporter who is, of course, gorgeous. And though both are Americans, they speak fluent Russian (admittedly, hers is a little better than his).

But wait, there’s more. First, there’s a super-secret arm of the CIA that operates out of a townhouse in Manhattan (like the one where Robert Redford worked in the film “Three Days of the Condor,” which had been released more than a decade previously) — plus a super-secret cabal within the most senior reaches of the US government that will go to any lengths to preserve the secrecy of a nefarious espionage plot they’d hatched in 1950. Second, within the Soviet Union — the book is set in 1989 and was published in 1991 — there are two (count ’em: two) super-secret organizations within the most senior level of the Soviet government, both of them involving the KGB but working at cross-purposes.

If you can live with all that, you’ll love The Moscow Club. Abundant absurdities aside, I did. The suspense is nerve-wracking.

The Moscow Club by Joseph Finder (1991) ★★★☆☆

About the author

Joseph Finder is one of my favorite thriller writers. The Moscow Club, published in 1991, was his first novel (and it shows). He’s written ten since then. Of those, I’ve read Vanished, which I found disappointingSuspicion, Finder’s most recent — and, to my mind, best — thriller to date; plus Buried Secrets, High Crimes, and The Zero Hour, all of them excellent recent works. (I’d read three others before I began reviewing books in this blog in January 2010.)

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