About the Book
John Lawton’s Inspector Troy series is regularly singled out as of exceptional quality, earning comparisons to John le Carré, Philip Kerr, and Alan Furst. The latest novel in the spy thriller series—written to be read in any order—finds Inspector Troy entangled in Cold War tensions. It is 1958. Chief Superintendent Frederick Troy of Scotland Yard, newly promoted after good service during Nikita Khrushchev’s visit to Britain, is not looking forward to a Continental trip with his older brother, Rod. Rod was too vain to celebrate being fifty so instead takes his entire family on “the Grand Tour” for his fifty-first birthday: Paris, Siena, Florence, Vienna, Amsterdam. Restaurants, galleries, and concert halls. But Frederick Troy never gets to Amsterdam. After a concert in Vienna he is approached by an old friend whom he has not seen for years—Guy Burgess, a spy for the Soviets, who says something extraordinary: “I want to come home.” Troy dumps the problem on MI5 who send an agent to debrief Burgess—but the man is gunned down only yards from the embassy, and after that, the whole plan unravels with alarming speed, and Troy finds himself a suspect. As he fights to prove his innocence, Troy finds that Burgess is not the only ghost who returns to haunt him.
Combining richly atmospheric rendering of period and place, wonderfully well drawn characters—several of whom we have met before—with a compelling narrative full of twists and turns, Friends and Traitors will satisfy John Lawton’s many fans and win him new ones.
“A beguiling interpretation of [Guy] Burgess’ life both before and after his defection in 1951 . . . With the action jumping back and forth between the late 1950s and the war years, Lawton traces Burgess’ flamboyant life . . . [and] manages to generate considerable suspense in the setup, even though we know Burgess won’t be coming in from the cold.” —Bill Ott, Booklist (starred review)
Burgess plonked his briefcase on the coffee table, sloughed off his coat and jacket and began to prattle.
“Odd thing, bumping into you twice so soon. I don’t seem to run into you in any of my clubs. Although I suppose you’re not a clubbable sort of person. Of course your father was. And I’m pretty sure I first met him in one club or another. I forget which. The Reform, Brookes, the Garrick? Come to think of it, it probably was the Garrick. He was a member, wasn’t he? An awfully good choice now that I come to think about it. After all, it’s the actors’ club. Unlikely to be full of fellow-hacks. And I suppose what anyone wants from their club is a haven. Perhaps even an escape. Did he ever put you up for membership? But I suppose policemen aren’t really clubbable, are they?”
Troy hit him in the sternum. More of a tap than blow. Just enough to send Burgess backwards into the sofa.
“How quickly you catch on.”
“Bloody hell,” said Burgess. “I mean, bloody hell.”
“Stop pretending, Guy.”
“Stop pretending what?’
Troy picked up the briefcase. Yanked on one of the many pieces of string holding it together and scattered a dozen sheaves of paper across the table. White, buff and red covers. Every one of them stamped “Secret” or “Top Secret.”
“In case you’ve forgotten, Guy. A red cover means ‘Do Not Remove From Office.’ You didn’t knock your briefcase over accidentally. I know you can be a clumsy fucker, but after one drink? Guy, whisky is to you as mother’s milk is to a baby. It’s the stuff of life. There’s nothing you can do sober that you can’t do pissed. You knocked it over just to be certain you had my attention.”