The Good Assassin by Paul Vidich
Paul Vidich follows up his acclaimed debut spy thriller with a suspenseful tale of Cold War espionage set in 1950s Cuba, as foreign powers compete to influence the outcome of a revolution.
The CIA director persuades retired agent George Mueller to go to Cuba during the perilous last throes of the Batista regime to investigate Toby Graham, a CIA operative suspected of assisting Fidel Castro’s rebel fighters with diverted CIA weaponry. Posing as a magazine travel writer, Mueller reconnects with Jack and Liz Malone, old friends who have relocated to Cuba and are unable to see the coming upheaval in their lives, both political and personal. Toby’s betrayals aren’t limited to his mission, and Mueller must make a choice between justice and duty, between loyalty to his profession and to his friends.
I picked this novel due to two primary reasons. The era, 1950’s and the location of Cuba and I was not disappointed at all. The novel is spy based as described in the synopsis. Retired CIA agent George Mueller is called back into the fold, to assess and report back on fellow CIA agent Toby Graham.
With rumours that Toby is involved in assisting the Fidel Castro rebel fighters, there is cold war politics galore in this novel. The whole element of loyalty vs honour or friendships vs secrets is fully put to the test. From early on, in the novel I questioned everyone’s motives. But this is essentially an era where agents lived dangerously, not only within their job roles but within their personal lives also. There was a specific quote about Havana which I loved
“Havana saloons where the food is cheap and the drinks generous”
Time Machine anyone?
Aside from the glitz and the glamour there is political unrest and none of the central characters fully know what is in store for them. Cuba can no longer afford to continue to sell itself to the USA vis it’s trade in sugar, rum, beaches and women. Without expecting the USA to try and insert some political control. There are two sides to Cuba, the casinos and dance halls and the other more historic side where the quiet Spanish colonial still holds much influence. One thing, is for certain Cuba, is changing!
Will George Muller survive the change and find some distinction between assassin and friend?
This has to be the perfect historical location, Cuba seeps from every page and I felt I walked amongst the characters and their different struggles. 4*