Yesterday’s Spy by Tom Bradby is a fast-paced, well-written suspense-thriller.
Ex-spy and confidante of Winston Churchill, Harry Tower, learns his son, Sean, has gone missing in 1950s Iran after his article about government corruption is published.
Harry’s and Sean’s already-difficult relationship hadn’t receovered following the suicide of their wife/mother. Sean quits Cambridge and runs off to become a foreign correspondent. Harry blames himself for it all and mourns the loss of his wife and his son.
After learning of Sean’s disappearance, Harry flies into a troubled, chaotic and dangerous Tehran, teetering precariously on the edge of a coup. With the UK’s knowledge and support, the CIA is supporting the Iranian government’s overthrow to ensure the US and UK cash in on Iran’s oil. The KGB are involved, of course. The UK’s spies follow Harry to Iran, intent on exposing him as a longtime KGB double-agent.
With the help of Shahnaz, Sean’s girlfriend and daughter of a senior Iranian army officer, Harry uncovers a secret arrangement among key players to profit from oil sales and this leads them to find Sean amid the chaos of the eventually successful coup. All that remains is to escape, but as this is a suspense, that’s where I stop and you start. Because if you like suspense-thrillers you must read this book.
Bradby has plotted the story very tightly and so it’s a fast read. The characters are well-developed and their relationships feel real. The dialogue sounds authentic. An exotic setting sometimes dominates such books, but Bradbury doesn’t dwell much on the romanticism of Iran/ancient Persia (OK, just a little, but not too much).
I enjoyed this book immensely for its intensity, its pace, the genuineness of its characters and their relationships, and for the masterfully constructed ending.