Sunday, July 31, 2011

Read: "Agents of Treachery" Edited by Otto Penzler

Read: Agents of Treachery edited by Otto Penzler, 2010, 9780307477514.

I was scanning the shelves for paperbacks to take on my trip.

Fourteen short stories by as many authors. I liked the ones by Andrew Klavan, Stephen Hunter, and John Weisman. I was disappointed in the Lee Child story. The best one was by John Lawton.

Klavan story: Sleeper cell of Soviet agents still lives in the U.S. Some cell members have had suspicious deaths since the break-up of the USSR. All cell members are about 60+ yrs old - or older - now. Told by one cell member who fears murder by the Americans or activation. He hears from another cell member, after a 20 year quiet, who is freaking out. Other guy thinks the Russians sold the cell to the Arabs for terrorism. Both men wish for their childhood home of Centerville. Centerville was made just for cell training. The members were raised as children in an idealized American small town set in the middle of Ukrainian prairie.

Hunter: A WWII story set in France and England. A US commando is part of a three man team sent to blow a bridge after D-Day. The local partisans are a communist group and do not want to deploy their machine guns. The partisans want to save the guns for political power after the war. The Brit commando calls a contact he knows is a commie. The commie gets word to Kremlin. Kremlin gets word to France. Machine guns are deployed. At the same time a Brit gal soldier hears of this. She is NKVD and the partisan group is being run by a competing Soviet intelligence service. She contacts NKVD bosses who get the machine guns, somehow, pulled. The American and Brit commando die after bridge is blown.

Weisman: Weisman writes one of his "capable commando foiled by bureaucrats and liberals" tales. 52 year old CIA paramilitary guy is hunting AQ in Iraq and has a line on kidnappers and victims. Matt Maupin is supposed to be held. 52 year old has to convince a young inexperienced, naive, and mostly incompetent superior to run an informant properly. Turns out the informant is a plant and the paramilitary was the target. Paramilitary was too effective and getting to AQ and is killed in operation.

When I heard Maupin's remains were found I was not surprised. He had been missing so long. Even expecting the worst I was no less sad to hear the news. The missing guys never got much press coverage but others were completely focused on finding them.

Lawton: Great story with a Brit Army officer in 1960's. Brit has led an unexciting career. Crappy assignments at cold and dingy English bases and a few years stuck in the Libyan desert. Officer learns Russian in hopes of getting into Intelligence. But, ends up in London and in charge of all supplies East of Suez. During a night of bar hopping he gets propositioned by whore. While getting undressed the door busts open and Russian takes his photo. Russian has mistaken Officer for a senior officer of the same name. Officer takes regular reports on skillet shipments, doctors them, sells the reports to Russian. Officer falls for the whore. Whore likes him, too. Things get hairy and they are able to frame-up the senior officer with same name (a dickhead). Whore kills the Russian. Whore also kills the Officer's older wife to be with him.

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