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An Honorable Man: A Novel by Paul Vidich
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An Honorable Man: A Novel

by Paul Vidich

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It’s Washington, D.C. in 1953. The Cold War is heating up and McCarthyism is in full swing. Stalin has died and left a void and power struggle in Russia. The CIA is reeling when it discovers a double agent in its midst. They have dubbed him Protocol. George Mueller seems to be the perfect one to track the spy down. Mueller just wants to retire in peace before all of the repercussion and blame throwing starts. Feeling a push and a sense of duty, he accepts the job. ( )
  creighley | May 18, 2018 |
This story is set in Washington DC in 1953, against a background of The Cold War, a newly unstable Soviet Union following the death of Stalin and the McCarthy witch-hunts. Failed espionage missions and the deaths of a number of agents, have exposed the fact that there is a double agent, code-name Protocol, within the CIA. This mole must be tracked down as soon as possible and, with the FBI eager to expose any weakness in the CIA, the Director trusts only one man to take on the job. This is George Mueller, a Yale-educated agent with many years’ experience in espionage missions in post-war Europe. However, Mueller is disillusioned with espionage work and, having lost his original idealistic patriotism, has decided to leave the service and accept a teaching job. Under pressure from the Director, and feeling that it is the honourable thing to do, he accepts this final mission. However, he is a man with his own secrets and dilemmas. He struggles with concepts of loyalty, honour and patriotism, as well as with the compromises he feels his job forces him to make. He wants to see himself as an honourable man but how confident can he really feel in his own moral and ethical choices?
Suspicion, paranoia, betrayal, conflicts of loyalty, deception, corruption, traitors and personal sacrifice – all the elements which make for a chillingly good spy-thriller – are skilfully woven together to form the background to Paul Vidich’s gripping, page-turning novel. From the opening chapter I felt drawn into the shadowy world of espionage, where no one can be trusted and where danger lingers in every shadow. The parallel story of the influence of Mc Carthyism and the persecution of people suspected of being communist, homosexual or atheist added an extra layer of tension, as well as outrage, to my reading experience. I really liked the main character and found myself urging him to trust his instincts, to resign from the CIA, and to take that teaching post!
As a huge Le Carré fan most spy thrillers fall short of my expectations, but not this one because it has all the hallmarks of the best examples of novels in this genre. The writing style is elegant and the taut, atmospheric prose, as well as the credible characters, made me feel that this is an author who has a good understanding of the murky world of espionage. I thought that he highlighted, in a very convincing way, the effects that living a life in this shadowy world can have on an individual’s emotional life and on personal relationships – be those intimate ones or friendships. The fact that one of the characters was modelled on a real-life spy of the period, and the author’s creative use of his considerable research, made the story-telling feel authentically convincing to me. I also appreciated the fact that, through the author’s “Acknowledgments” at the end of the book, I learnt a lot about this aspect of America’s contemporary history.
This is story-telling at its intelligent best, respecting the reader’s ability to follow a complex plot. I am delighted that there is to be a sequel – even though this does indicate that George has not yet been able to escape the shackles of his career with the CIA!! ( )
1 vote linda.a. | Apr 22, 2017 |
Paul Vidich
AN HONORABLE MAN
Atria / Emily Bestler Books, 2016
288 pages
Spy / Thriller

AN HONORABLE MAN takes place during the early 1950s. America is in panic mode. Anything Russian, Communist-related, or homosexual is bad. Knee-jerk decisions, and chaos propel the government. In the middle of it all, and at the end of his rope is C.I.A. Agent George Mueller.

Operatives in the field, and confidential information is being leaked to the Russians. They seem constantly one step ahead. They know every turn before the US makes it. The only conclusion is a mole exists inside the agency, a traitor, a ... double agent. The C.I.A. has a name for the unknown traitor. They call him Protocol.

Mueller wants out. He's had enough. Too many people who became collateral damage haunt him. The things he's done, seen, it is more than he can take. However, the director needs his help. One last time. They must root out the mole, and expose the double agent. The safety of so many depend on the revelation!

Working within a group known as The Council, a list of likely suspects has been comprised: screw-ups, drunks, overspenders, those who held grudges against the agency. Mueller's connections can get him in close with Colonel Yuri Vasilenko. Mueller's peer, and somewhat of a friend, becomes his go-to guy in a time when trust is meaningless, and true identities are masks worn over masks.

Unexpected romance keeps Mueller off-balance. Handling feelings he otherwise kept concealed, and locked, and stored far from his heart, he finds his own mission compromised. Figuring out who is on the right side, and who is on the wrong side is not as easy as black and white. As the Council closes in on the identity of Protocol, Mueller realizes swift, and not-so-easy actions must be taken . . . It is the only way he can get out of the C.I.A. in one piece, it is the only way he can retire and live out his life as close to a normal person as possible.

In a taut cat and mouse game between governments, and dangerous politicians, AN HONORABLE MAN comes out the winner. What I first find most interesting is that this is Paul Vidich's first novel. Vidich has crafted a simple spy novel that is well written, tight, and kept me turning pages. He made me care about the characters. I had to find out what happened next. When an author can do that, the author has done their job. And Paul Vidich has done it well. I do hope he has more tales in the works. I will be anxiously following his literary career!

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series,
and The Vaccination Trilogy ( )
  ptom3 | Feb 7, 2017 |
This book is set in the height of the cold war and the era of McCarthyism. The CIA have a mole and agents are being killed and they must find the traitor soon before any one else is killed.

George Mueller has ben picked to find the mole as he has the needed skills but can he do the most important job he's ever been given?

This has its good points, it is fairly short and is easy to read without too many confusing characters. The reader is quickly drawn in to the mind-set of the time when everyone was questioning who were the 'reds under the bed'.

However I didn't feel any connection to Mueller and his life, with his marriage ended and no real friends. He came across as one of lifes losers and not someone you would want to spend much time with.

He has a relationship with his Russian counterpart and this feels well written. They vacillate between sworn enemies and drinking buddies which is when we get more of an insight into who Mueller is.

The romance in the book feels false and forced and I never got the feeling that he was really invested in her to any real extent.

As a first book though this is a good read, just don't think you are going to be reading the next John le Carre, the author has a long way to go to be in that league. ( )
  Northern_Light | Dec 20, 2016 |
The only thing I like better than 'discovering' a great writer in my favorite genre is finding one with a deep catalog. Unfortunately, that's not the case here as 'An Honorable Man' is Paul Vidich's first. It's a fine piece of work and I hope the author continues in the spy novel genre.

'An Honorable Man' is a throwback novel to a time when we were battling the Soviet threat, McCarthyism was running rampant, and spywork was done the old-fashioned way without sophisticated electronics and forensics. The plot is one that many thrillers have used: the CIA may or may not have a spy in its midst, agents are being killed in foreign lands, and a crack team is assembled to track down the traitor. It's a well-traveled road for writers, but handled expertly by Mr. Vidich.

The writing is superb- very Alan Furst-like in that the style and cadence are perfect complements to the story. One way I tend to judge books is on how well my mind's eye can re-create the characters and scenes and I had no problem doing so for this one. The story proceeds at a good clip- there's not a lot of action but the characters move steadily toward a conclusion that addresses the mystery in a satisfactory way.

By the way, after vowing to never read another book based on laudatory blurbs written by writers I generally like (I've been burned by Lee Child, Ridley Pearson, Michael Connelly), I took a chance on this one due to Joseph Kanon and Olen Steinhauer's praise and I'm glad I did. It's a fine start to what I hope will be a long career for Paul Vidich writing excellent novels. ( )
  gmmartz | Sep 23, 2016 |
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Washington D.C., 1953. As the Cold War heats up, the CIA is reeling from a double agent within their midst. Someone is selling secrets to the Soviets, compromising missions around the globe. Undercover agents have been assassinated, and anti-Communist plots are being cut short in ruthlessly efficient fashion. The traitor, whose code name is Protocol, can compromise the entire agency. George Mueller seems to be the perfect man to help find the mole. The Director trusts him. Mueller, though, has secrets of his own, and as he digs deeper into the case suspicion begins to fall on him as well. Until Protocol is found, no one can be trusted, and everyone is at risk.… (more)

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