The Dragon’s Tail
Harry Airton is recruited by British Intelligence to become a double agent, working against the Chinese government. In the early 1960s he is sent to China with orders to allow himself to be seduced by a “honey trap,” and then persuaded to spy for the Chinese government. He meets and allows himself to be seduced by Peng Zwei, who has been ordered to compromise him. However, neither the British or Chinese spymasters are prepared for Harry and Peng to fall in love. The plot is revealed and Airton is sent home in ignominy and disgrace, while Peng Zwei is sent to a labour camp. The second half of the novel deals with Peng’s life in the labour camp and her eventual release, before culminating with events at Tiananmen Square.
I found the plot in the first half of the book formulaic and almost clichéd, in marked contrast to the second half of the book which was vibrant and exciting. Written as a romantic spy thriller, this book falls between both stools, providing not enough romance and insufficient thrills. Undoubtedly well written, but ultimately disappointing.