(G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016), 1983
291 pages • $13.95 cloth
This is a novel about two brothers, Aleksei and Kiril Andreyev. Born in the Soviet Union and raised in Moscow, their lives took two very different turns. Through flashbacks we learn that their father had been a drunkard and a member of the dreaded Soviet police. Their mother, however, had been unable to share her husband’s views and, when a third son was seriously injured in infancy, had fled with him to the West in a desperate search for medical attention.
Aleksei, just under ten when his mother disappeared, had already learned that his father’s name inspired fear in the hearts of listeners. He soon became a young bully and in time, following in his father’s footsteps, a powerful official in the Soviet intelligence agency.
Kiril, only three when his mother left, was raised by an aunt who sympathized when he rebelled against the Communist youth organization, encouraged his natural desire for freedom and taught him how to oppose the regime in silence. Thus, Kiril quietly nursed his resentment against the Communist regime and spent every effort toward preparing himself for eventual escape from the Soviet Union. He studied languages and chose a medical career in the hope that it might some day take him abroad.
Kiril’s first carefully worked out scheme to escape failed when his co-conspirator was killed in a desperate dash for freedom across the bridge between East and West Berlin. But Kiril persisted. Aleksei, suspicious of his brother’s intentions, had long been having him closely followed by secret informants.
The tale climaxes when fate finally brings Kiril, his brother Aleksei, as well as all the other major characters in the book, to a medical meeting in East Berlin. There, fortuitously, Kiril meets a famous American doctor who looks astonishingly like him. Kiril tries to persuade the doctor to let him “borrow” his U.S. passport just long enough to permit him to cross the border into West Berlin. Unfortunately, this scheme goes awry for completely unexpected reasons. Kiril then im provises on the spot—to tell how, would give the plot away. Suffice it to say that the story is exciting and the ending satisfying.
This book tells a great deal about the sad plight of persons behind the Iron Curtain who are yearning to be free. It reveals to some extent their desperation and the faint hopes to which they cling on the slight chance of someday escaping the clutches of the Communist regime.
To promote the freedom philosophy, it is important to make use of any and every medium of communication. Too few novels nowadays are sympathetic to capitalism. Thus, it is refreshing to have a well-written thriller that is frankly pro-freedom and anti-communist. Our thanks to Erika Holzer for Double Crossing.