Thriller writer Joseph Kanon (Leaving Berlin) infiltrates period and locale as if he were an experienced spy, and Defectors nimbly captures an era: Moscow at the peak of the Cold War, where a turncoat CIA agent has lived for 12 years under the watchful eye of the KGB.

Defector Frank Weeks was big news when he slipped out of the United States in 1949, a rising star of the new CIA, exposed as a Communist spy. He escaped Hoover and treason charges, but left his family behind--including his brother, Simon, who worked for the State Department and unwittingly fed Frank intelligence information. With a traitorous brother, Simon had to resign from State and join his father-in-law's publishing company. Twelve years later, the publisher pays the Russians for access to Frank, and Simon travels to Moscow as editor of Frank's memoirs. The CIA has conceded to freedom of the press, but is monitoring the project.

Simon's anxieties are substantial and the brothers' reunion is infused with intrigue. Who is Frank now, and can he be trusted? Will his wife, once close to Simon, confide in him? Frank's associate Boris is always within earshot, though his role remains unclear to Simon. An American reporter shows up attempting to discover the truth about a nuclear scientist's sudden death in the dacha next to Frank's. Simon is on guard, but is unprepared for Frank's announcement: he's orchestrating a defection back to the U.S. Soon Simon is a player in Frank's plan, a race involving the CIA, the KGB, deceit, high-speed car chases and a heartbreaking truth. --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, manager, Book Passage, San Francisco

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