A Gripping Socio-Political Thriller from an Iconic Author
Russian politics never gets dull, whether it’s reality or fiction. This is yet another fast-paced thriller from Frederick Forsyth that contains enough facts to make the fiction begin to seem believable.
Icon begins just before the turn of the century at a time when things were a bit volatile for many countries in the world and for Russia in particular, according to Forsyth. The presidential elections were just around the corner, and the country was on the brink of chaos as it was brought to its knees by corruption, crime, unemployment, inflation, and hunger.
Igor Komarov, a former army sergeant, becomes an increasingly popular contender for the presidential seat as his voice rings out over the radio offering a message of hope. But, as with all things that seem to be too good to be true, Komarov’s message to the people is not quite in line with his actual plan, which he was stupid enough to put down on paper. Of course, it is discovered by a horrified member of his staff who does not keep it to himself.
The Black Manifesto – A Blueprint for Chaos
Aptly named The Black Manifesto, Komarov’s secret plan turns out to be a sinister plot to return Russia to dictatorship. It also involves massive military expansion and even includes plans for genocidal ethnic cleansing. A copy of the manifesto is smuggled out, and British intelligence gets their hands on it. But the powers that be from both England and America cannot legally do anything to prevent Komarov from coming into power.
To the rescue comes Sir Nigel Irvine, a retired SIS man, and Jason Monk, a former CIA officer. Together, they concoct their own plan to counteract Komarov’s evil plot. They use deception, old debts, and an unlikely combination of people to infiltrate Russia with the goal of preventing complete catastrophe.
Fact vs. Fiction
The story takes the reader back and forth in time and jumps between factual and historical references as well as thrilling fiction. As always, Forsyth weaves actual occurrences in with his fiction, making it more believable. In this novel, he cleverly pens the basics of recent Russian history, like the disintegration of the USSR and the fall of communism, and includes real-life characters like Soviet mole Aldrich Ames. In the novel, Forsyth projects that Russia would be in deep trouble by 1999, which was not exactly accurate but could well have been if a different set of variables played out.
Intricate, Exact, and Gripping
Icon is a socio-political tour de force. It absorbs readers from the first word and keeps their attention until the very end. By successfully managing to add in all the elements needed to turn a book into a page-turner, Forsyth has once again proven that he is an unmitigated pro at what he does. He skillfully builds the suspense to a climactic ending that does not disappoint. His characters are strong and his James Bond-style escapades perfectly nudge the imagination.