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Friends and Traitors by John Lawton
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Troy is back ! Just when you thought you'd never see another Freddie novel he arises for his 8th adventure, "Friends and Traitors" (FT) - thank you John Lawton. Lawton wrote seven excellent Troy novels from 1995-2010. The 2010 book, "A Lily of the Field", felt like the curtains closed for a final time. I feared Troy had drifted away to the same literary cemetery as Lisbeth Salander, Bernard Samson, George Smiley, Mitch Rapp, Peter Guillam. But no, there has been yet another resurrection. Maybe there's still hope for more.

The series is set mostly in London and environs from the late 30's to the very early 60's. Troy is a detective on the murder squad, perhaps responsible for a murder or two of his own. What set the series apart for me was the London WWll settings, the bombings, the blackouts, underground shelters, the dignity and resolve of the Brits, and the convoluted plots. Troy is a son in a successful, monied, Russian ex-pat family. Brother Rod is a high ranking member of the Brit government. Dad ran an influential journal and knew everybody. Brit PMs were frequent cast members, often guests at dinner , like Harold MacMillan. Troy also had opportunities to meet with Joe Kennedy, Winston, Nikita.... And then there are Freddie's twin sisters, Sasha and Masha, fun girls who still like to roam the mansion late at night naked as the day they were born. And sometimes the three of them go a bit too far.

The Troy series is an incredible bowl of spaghetti. You might be reading merrily along and find that the story has leapt ahead five years, then back eight years and a character is introduced whom you know will die because she died in the previous book. Lawton began another series in 2013 with a character named Joe Wilderness, who plays a role in guess what? yes FT. Unfortunately, The Wilderness books didn't interest me all that much.

So what's FT about? Guy Burgess of all people, as in Burgess, Maclean, Philby, the notorious spy triple of England 50s and 60s. Troy meets Guy at the house, at a dinner party of course, and doesn't much care for him. Guy makes little secret of the fact that he is "queer" and Troy quickly establishes that he is not. As a matter of fact, Troy dates a number of vibrant women in this book just as he has in the other seven. His marital status is unclear; technically he is still married to Tosca who may or may not be a spy for the Russians. Troy hasn't seen her for almost two years. Troy also enjoys Venetia, and Foxx. Only one of the three is killed. Guy enjoys guys and lots of booze, lots. Troy and Guy keep bumping into each other in popular members only clubs of varied repute over the ensuing years, and it's clear that although Burgess may be a spy he doesn't seem capable of doing much harm and after all, whom would you tell? On a somewhat spur of the moment moment Guy and Maclean defect, then soon go their separate ways.

Sometime later, Troy becomes aware that Guy misses London and wants to come back. And the story gets even more interesting. I enjoyed FT very much, it's 4 1/2 stars, and I hope there are more to come. FT doesn't quite maze all around like the first six Troys and that's unfortunate, I still enjoyed the trip back in time. And before too long I will probably reread the whole series, maybe in order this time. ( )
  maneekuhi | Oct 26, 2017 |
Inspector Frederick Troy has never been one to follow advice, and when his family was warned to avoid Guy Burgess, Troy avoided the advice. Not that Troy was exactly fond of Burgess, thinking of him as more the bad penny always turning up than any sort of confidante. Though who would confide in anyone as indiscreet and reckless as Burgess was a puzzle.

Friends and Traitors presents Troy’s tepid friendship throughout the years from their meeting in 1935 to the day Burgess infamously defected to the Soviet Union with MacLean, one of the Eton spies whose betrayal encompassed a third man, a fourth, and possibly several more. You would think having defected and decamped to Russia, Burgess would finally stop impinging on Troy’s life, but no such luck.

Burgess misses England and wants to come home and the person he reaches to for help is Troy, embroiling him in a murder and bringing him under suspicion of being another in the cluster of traitors. Can Troy clear himself and find the real murderer?

Friends and Traitors is John Lawton’s eleventh novel and his eighth featuring Inspector Troy. As the series progresses, each book tosses away more and more of the conventions of genre fiction. If this book were a singleton – not part of a series – it would be classified as literary fiction examining the role of identity, family, patriotism, and honor in Cold War England. The fact of being a spy is central to Burgess’ identity and his role in the story, but the particulars of his espionage are immaterial. The murders come very late and are not the purpose of the story which is really about Troy figuring out more about himself and what he values.

Lawton has incorporated real historical figures in his books in the past, though never quite so completely as he has with Guy Burgess, the spy. He does it very well and Burgess’ charm and pitiable state come through along with his vulgarity, making it easy to understand how Troy could enjoy him and pity him while also slightly disliking him all at the same time.

I have loved this series since its inception. Troy is a complicated character, compromised by his affection for others, by love and loyalty that is personal rather than patriotic. He does not just sail close to the wind, he risks being blown off course. I enjoy this series and would love to see them in a Masterpiece Mystery series though it’s possible Troy with his empathy for friends and traitors like Guy Burgess is too complicated for television.

I received an advance e-galley of Friends and Traitors from Atlantic Grove through NetGalley

Friends and Traitors at Grove Atlantic
John Lawton author site

https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2017/10/06/9780802127068/ ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | Oct 6, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802127061, Hardcover)

John Lawton’s Inspector Troy series is regularly singled out as a crime series of exceptional quality, spy thrillers that have earned comparisons to John le Carré, Philip Kerr, and Alan Furst and have been described as “vivid, moving, and wonderfully absorbing” by the Washington Post. The latest novel in the series―written to be read in any order―finds Inspector Troy entangled in Cold War tensions.





It is 1958. Chief Superintendent Frederick Troy of Scotland Yard, newly promoted after good service during Nikita Khrushchev’s visit to Britain, is not looking forward to a Continental trip with his older brother, Rod. Rod was too vain to celebrate being fifty so instead takes his entire family on “the Grand Tour” for his fifty-first birthday: Paris, Siena, Florence, Vienna, Amsterdam. Restaurants, galleries and concert halls. But Frederick Troy never gets to Amsterdam. After a concert in Vienna he is approached by an old friend whom he has not seen for years―Guy Burgess, a spy for the Soviets, who says something extraordinary: “I want to come home.” Troy dumps the problem on MI5 who send an agent to de-brief Burgess―but the man is gunned down only yards from the embassy, and after that, the whole plan unravels with alarming speed and Troy finds himself a suspect. As he fights to prove his innocence, Troy finds that Burgess is not the only ghost who returns to haunt him.

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 14 Apr 2017 01:13:33 -0400)

"It is 1958. Chief Superintendent Frederick Troy of Scotland Yard, newly promoted after good service during Nikita Khrushchev's visit to Britain, is not looking forward to a Continental trip with his older brother, Rod. Rod was too vain to celebrate being fifty so instead takes his entire family on "the Grand Tour" for his fifty-first birthday: Paris, Siena, Florence, Vienna, Amsterdam. Restaurants, galleries and concert halls. But Frederick Troy never gets to Amsterdam. After a concert in Vienna he is approached by an old friend whom he has not seen for years--Guy Burgess, a spy for the Soviets, who says something extraordinary: "I want to come home." Troy dumps the problem on MI5 who send an agent to de-brief Burgess--but the man is gunned down only yards from the embassy, and after that, the whole plan unravels with alarming speed and Troy finds himself a suspect. As he fights to prove his innocence, Troy finds that Burgess is not the only ghost who returns to haunt him"--… (more)

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