The Folks at Fifty Eight

The Folks at Fifty Eight

Crème de la crème of spy novels

The Folks at Fifty Eight, seems to me in many ways like a traditionally written British spy thriller a la John le Carre. The difference being the author is writing about the CIA rather than the British establishment. However, one reviewer commented that it also has elements of Harold Robins about it, which is a very valid point. The sex is steamy and unusual and I believe is written in to emphasise that sometimes people are not always what they seem to be. Everyone in the novel has secrets and they are therefore in a position to be blackmailed and/or taken advantage of. 

The twists and turns in the novel build slowly, so you are able to relate to each character in turn, before their flaws are revealed. Marriages that on the surface appear to be working are shown to be not only a sham but an ugly nest of malignancy, vitriol and obsession.

The only person not flawed in this way is the reluctant hero. However, he is flawed in other ways and to a certain extent this is a coming of age novel for him as he learns to accept the past, present and future of his life.

The ‘other side’ as it were are also extremely well drawn characters and it is interesting to see what their lives were like in Russia at the time and how they related to each other. The backgrounds, marriages and friendships are again explored, including how they manipulate not only the Americans, but also each other.

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