“Stuffed with all sorts of marvelous thoughts, characters, and moments . . . Lawton is one of the unsung (at least until now) heroes of the genre, as good as Le Carré at pointing out how England’s climate breeds such hardy spies.” Dick Adler, Chicago Tribune
It is April 1956 at the height of the Cold War: Khrushchev and Bulganin, leaders of the Soviet Union, are in Britain on an official visit. Chief Inspector Troy of Scotland Yard, son of a distinguished Russian émigré, is assigned to be Khrushchev's bodyguard and to spy on him. Soon after, a Royal Navy diver is found dead and mutilated beyond recognition in Portsmouth Harbor. What was he doing under the hull of Khrushchev's ship, and who sent him there? Is the corpse that of Arnold Cockerell, a furniture salesman with a mysterious source of income and a bizarre fetish for scuba gear, or did Cockerell fake his own death to escape an unknown nemesis? And what did Khrushchev mean when he leaned over at the dinner table and whispered, “Do It”?
Troy embarks on an investigation that takes him to the rotten heart of M16, to the distant days of his childhood, and into the dangerous arms of an old flame, Larissa Tosca, late of the U.S. Army, later still of Khrushchev’s KGB. As the mystery of Cockerell deepenswas he a spy or a red herring? agent or double agent?inexplicable murders begin following Troy wherever he goes, and now they are getting closer and closer to home.
Brilliantly evoking the intrigue of the Cold War and 1950s London, Old Flames
is a thrilling adventure of intrigue and suspense. It is “a lucid, disenchanted view of crimes past, quite brilliantly presented, with nostalgia kept at bay and every inducement to find your own perspective” (Philip Oakes, The Literary Review