Tense Cold War thriller

Red Traitor by Owen Matthews, Bantam Press, $37 .. .. Tony Nielsen






.. .. .. .. .. If, like me you were (just) old enough to take in the big event of 1962, then you will be aware of the Cuban crisis, and the brinkmanship between President JF Kennedy and the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. It was touch and go there for a few days and a nuclear war was supposedly imminent. Redtraitor is an excellent read by Owen Matthews as he explores the main players in this real-life drama, and adds a few of his own to round out a compelling story. There’s senior KGB operative Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vasin who basically is chasing ghosts, as he looks for evidence of a longrumoured spy embedded in the upper reaches of the Kremlin. His search gains traction as he also becomes aware of a secret mission called Operation Anadyr, which has the potential to start the war that no one really wants. Meanwhile, four Soviet submarines, each one carrying tactical ballistic missiles armed with thermo nuclear warheads, are making their way to Cuba, aiming to avoid the US blockade. Their fate is in the hands of a single, nervous Soviet naval officer, out of touch with Moscow and at odds with a submarine captain hellbent on letting loose the nuke at the US fleet 100m above them. This is a super-tense Cold War thriller and Owen Matthews has delivered a stunning read. —