The Firebird Affair centers on the suspicious death of Emily, the beautiful wife of Washington Tribune correspondent Todd Martin. In 1991, she collapsed over lunch with a friend in a Moscow restaurant. A massive heart attack, Moscow authorities said and the US Embassy concurred. They shipped her body home to the U.S. without Todd even being aware she had died. He was out of contact covering one of the conflicts flaring up as the Soviet Union disintegrated.
But Todd has managed to rebuild his life; he's now the Tribune's chess columnist, from time to time drifting in and out of depression. He has always been doubtful Emily's death was an accident. His estranged son, Rick, is certain his mother was murdered, and blames his father for failing to protect her.
By 2002, Todd gets an opportunity to establish the truth after a Russian spy approaches the CIA wanting to defect. The spy reveals the existence of a KGB mole inside the U.S. government. He also alleges that the KGB played a role in Emily's death by sneaking a psychotropic drug into her drink. Holz, the former Moscow CIA station chief, now a senior CIA official, offers Todd the chance to go to Moscow on a rogue mission to uncover the traitor's identity. Todd undertakes the mission that leads him as well as Holz to confront wholly unexpected results.
The Firebird Affair explores the consequences of duplicity and betrayal, in both Moscow and Washington. It revolves around the actual KGB-led plot to remove Gorbachev from power, capturing the drama of the last months of Cold War and the subsequent changes in our public life.
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When the narrator is bad even the best story sucks
I haven't gotten through the entire book yet, because I cringe at the way it's read. I usually listen to audio books during my commute. With many of the books I've heard, I actually look forward to traffic and more time to listen. I have no such feelings about this book and at this point, just listening to it to get it done and move on to the next book. The main character's voice is annoying, especially when he gets excited and the voices he provides for other characters teeter on ridiculous (i.e. the voice of his best friend sounds like Dopey of the 7 dwarfs).So, without even knowing the outcome of the story yet, the book would be made infinitely better by replacing the narrator.
Fast-paced, informative, intriguing.
Unexpected twists and turns, surprising ending.
Andy Caploe is a terrific narrator, gets the characters, draws you in.