RED STAR RISING, Brian Freemantle

A lifetime of writing has brought Freemantle an entire shelf of his own in most libraries. I’ll never understand why his name isn’t mentioned in the same breath as John LeCarre, as his writing is just as subtle. BUT! Don’t even think to start with this one, published in 2010. This story is set in corrupt, sinister, Putin-era Moscow, and pits Charlie against an array of foes, both in and outside the British Embassy. The Charlie Muffin (really, that’s this spy’s name) series began in the 70’s and comprises 13 other books. The name may be a bit silly, but there's nothing silly about the story, and the ending will leave you gasping. I just picked up Charlie M and Here Comes Charlie M, the first two, and hope that the writing is as good (might not be; that was 30 years ago and almost every writer except those who decide to do it the farm-it-out route improved with age). This a 4+, but you ought to read them in order.