Its almost a hundred years since there was last conflict in Europe, yet, as I write this piece, there is conflict in Europe and what could lead to military action between the East and West, following Russian invasion of Ukraine last week. During the Cold War there were several times when we were close to World War III, the Cuban missile crisis for one and I distinctly remember the eighties tv adverts informing viewers what to do in the event of a nuclear strike. The cold war ended in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin wall and there is the possibility that Kiev or Kyiv as they spell it. Breaded chicken with garlic sauce will never be the same again, and neither will the city of that name, if it becomes the new Berlin. This brings us to this month’s second book review it’s the Matchmaker by Paul Vidich and published by No Exit Press ( www.noexit.co.uk ) on the 17th February.
Its Berlin 1989 and Anne Simpson an American translator for JORC (Joint Operations Refugee Committee) thinks nothing of her seemingly idyllic marriage to her East German Piano Tuner husband Stefan. Until that is, he goes missing on route back from a job in Vienna. When the CIA and West German Intelligence turn up at her door, she informed that she has been targeted by The Matchmaker an East German counter-intelligence officer who runs a network of stazi agents, “Romeo’s”, who target vulnerable women in West Berlin. As Anne comes to terms with the lies surrounding her marriage, the CIA want to use her to smoke out The Matchmaker as he has close ties to the KGB and want tom find out more about his connection with a high-ranking defector. But as the wall falls and the city descends into chaos, Anne wants answers for herself, is Stefan dead? And to catch The Matchmaker and deliver her own type of justice…
What immediately gets you about this book is that it’s only two and fifty pages long, making it an ideal one sitting read, especially if you are on a long train or bus ride or mid length flight. Unlike most of the crop of new and existing thriller writers, who think substance is better then style, Vidich goes with the well worn and successful route of telling the story with enough style and minimal amount of substance, so as not to distract the reader from what they picked up the book for, a good read.
The story telling itself harks back to the heydays of the likes of Le Carre, Fleming and Greene. Although it’s set in 1989, there none of the more modern reliance on gadgets and its all down to the old cut and thrust of cold war politics, cross and double cross. Men and women in smoky bars and lounges, walking snow covered streets in high collared coats and trilby’s. This is what true traditionalists seek as an escape from what you can see in any of the numerous small and large screen offerings , and Vidich delivers it style, especially when you realise this isn’t his first foray into this genre.
This is American authors Paul Vidich’s ( www.paulvidich.com ) fifth book. The other include An Honorable Man (2014), The Good Assassin (2016), The Coldest Warrior (2020) and The Mercenary (2021). Vidich has had a distinguished career in music and media. Most recently, he was a special advisor to AOL and Executive Vice President at Warner Music group, in charge of Technology and Global Strategy. He was also a founder and Editor of the Storyville App and currently lives in Lower Manhattan.
So, if you are looking for a well written and traditionalist type of spy thriller, then download a copy or pop into your local bookshop and fall in love with Paul Vidich’s books.
Reviewed by: Adrian Murphy
This book review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour. To see what the other reviewers thought of the book visit their sites listed below, then if you get a copy, comeback and tell us what yoy thought. We’d really appreciate the feedback.