The Red Eagles

Written by David Downing
Review by Myfanwy Cook

Intense, intricate and intriguing; this engrossing novel is another example of Downing’s ability to write captivating historical espionage fiction. Set against the last days of World War Two, the story revolves around a Soviet-led plot that capitalises on the Germans’ need to turn the tide of the war. The author’s ability to conjure up a distinct sense of atmosphere in the Soviet Union, Germany and America during that period is as remarkable as his ability to create characters that are both memorable and haunting; in particular the double agent Amy, whose vulnerability goes hand in hand in hand with her determination to ensure that even if she ends up in the electric chair she will carry out her duty. Kuznetsky is a top Soviet agent who is both dispassionate and ruthless, and his sinister character contrasts sharply with Paul and his friend Gourd, who have been plucked from the hell of battling for Germany on the Eastern Front to face what is tantamount to a suicide mission in the sleepy backwaters of an unsuspecting and unprepared America.

Downing’s acclaimed Zoo Station and this new spy thriller share the author’s skill in being able not only to evoke a sense of a particular historical period, but also to write a riveting plot whilst introducing a cast of characters such as like Joe, whose fanatical beliefs both intrigue and repel one as a reader. This fast-moving novel is quite simply an excellent read.