Book Review: Defectors, by Joseph Kanon

I am so into Spy novels. Mitch Rapp, and Jack Ryan are two of my favorite characters in the genre. I was thrilled when I received a copy of Joseph Kanon’s Defectors to review. What could be better than a spy novel set in Russia during the meat of the Cold War? Little else, let me tell you. Little else.

Frank Weeks once worked with the U.S., in the C.I.A., as a spy. Something happened to his position on life, and he turned. He defected to Russia and gave up American secrets, and shared information with the enemy. Decades later, and while semi-retired, he decided to pen his memoirs. He felt questions about his past needed answering. Of course the rough draft had to be approved by the Russians. And since Frank’s brother, Simon, works with a publisher, he decides there is no one better to than Simon for the editor position.

There is one condition, Simon needs to come to Russia so they can work on the manuscript together. Not to mention, he hadn’t seen his brother in countless years. This would give them a perfect opportunity to catch up.

When Simon gets to Russia it is almost immediately clear that Frank is up to something. He knows details about his brother’s personal life –his marriage to Joanna, and what happened to their son Richie– but he can’t help feeling like there is something more behind every word Frank speaks.

What is Frank really up to? Is this visit all about editing the memoirs –which will bring in a fortune to Simon’s publishing company– or is something more at work? Is there a plot at hand, and Simon a mere pawn in another of Frank’s games? Doing anything even remotely illegal in Russia would constitute a lifelong prison sentence at best, and Simon’s execution in the worst case scenario.

But Frank is his brother . . . how can he not help his brother?

Almost a slow-burn thriller, at first. The plot is put into place. The players are expertly outlined. The history is unveiled, and the outcome of the future of the Weeks brothers is set in motion … and then Kanon kicks up the tension, the action, and the suspense as everything around the Weeks explodes with danger. Who can be trusted? No one. Their spies. This is their lives. These are the games spies play … and Simon, he just wants to get home safely –unfortunately, that may be asking too much!

Phillip Tomasso
author of Absolute Zero
and Damn the Dead

About the author

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