(Review copy – publish date: 26 May 2022 )
After his spy trilogy, Bradby ventures back (1953) to Iran in the days of the Shah. These are turbulent times. Prime Minister Mossadegh is clinging to power. Churchill wants Iran’s oil and has imposed an embargo on Iran. The Americans via the CIA are trying to manipulate the Shah back into power to keep out the Communists. There are local factions fighting to be heard and the Army Generals want a piece of the action too,
Against this background, an English Guardian reporter Sean Tower goes missing in Tehran – probably kidnapped. He is the son of a dysfunctional British spy Harry Tower. Harry is keen to travel to Iran to locate his son. Despite opposition to his visit, Harry dons a new persona and arrives in Tehran to search for his son.
At the beginning of the book, the story jumps between time periods and it is initially a little confusing. Harry has spent much of his time in eastern Europe trying to “influence” events for the UK spy service and Churchill. Despite his successes, there have been some disasters. It seems that there is a mole (Bradby is fond of moles!!) on the British side leaking information to the Soviets. In addition. Harry’s home life has been a disaster too. His wife has committed suicide and his son Sean blames Harry.
Sean (despite Harry’s misgivings about his son’s abilities) has uncovered some information about drug deals and the Guardian has published his story. Unfortunately, Sean has upset many local dignitaries and businessmen with his revelations. Furthermore, he is on the track of a new story, and Harry believes he has been kidnapped to prevent publication. Sean’s girlfriend, Shahnaz (the daughter of an influential army officer) soon meets Harry and they set off to track down Sean.
The plot is littered with references to Iran’s history, politics and culture. Interesting and initially illuminating to understand the background to Iran’s problems in the 1950s. Unfortunately, in the end it begins to feel like a history lesson.
Is Harry a hero or a villain? What is more important country or family? Well, you need to read this thriller to discover that. There is plenty of action and political intrigue. You are guessing almost to the end to find out who the mole is. This book has the makings of a film! Perhaps not Bradby’s finest but a great read nevertheless.