The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth (♦♦♦♦)
To a story as complex as The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth, I wouldn’t have done enough justice had I attempted to retell the plot. Thus I submitted to Barnes & Noble from which I extracted the official book blurb:
"It is a time of political unrest in Great Britain. And behind the Iron Curtain an insidious plot is being hatched, a plan so incendiary that even the KGB is ignorant of its existence—Aurora, the sinister brainchild of two of the world's most dangerous men: the general secretary of the Soviet Union and master spy Kim Philby.
The wheels are in motion, the pawns are in place, and the countdown has begun toward an “accident” that could change the face of British politics forever and trigger the collapse of the Western alliance.
Only British agent John Preston stands any chance of breaching the conspiracy. Through plot and counterplot, from bloody back streets to polished halls of power both East and West, his desperate investigation is relentlessly blocked by deceit, treachery, and the most deadly enemy of all...time."
Frederick Forsyth came to my attention when in one of the thrillers I usually read, an author expressed that “The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth was the best thriller ever written, period.” That off course got stuck in my mind and I promised myself to read most if not all his books. I started to read the first few lines of The Day of the Jackal, but my mind was wandering and since I wasn’t sure if that was going to continue I decided to start The Fourth Protocol. Lucky break!
The Fourth Protocol is taut as violin strings and an intricate story made of convoluted subplots, which kept me on my toes as I kept track of every twist. It is unlike anything I have ever read, incendiary and frighteningly plausible to the point of being timely and prescient: it could be equally applied to the affair involving the radiation poisoning of a foreign prominent dissident in London, or the terrorist attack that precipitated a change of the electorate vote in Spain in March 2004. Curiously, Forsyth failed to envision the fall of Communism just two years later.
I learned about the intricacies of Britain's Labor Party, and the interest Soviet nomenklatura vested on the outcome of British elections. Forsyth describes party politics of Soviet institutions with the masterly touch of an insider, letting clear that there was a growing suspicion, perhaps tension between the Politburo and KGB.
At a time in which western democracies are at war with the reemerging Cold War of old, and the perils of radical Islam in expansion, The Fourth Protocol should be mandatory reading for intelligence agencies especially in the West.