Yesterday’s Spy

Atlantic Monthly. Aug. 2022. 384p. ISBN 9780802159045. $27. THRILLER
Best-selling novelist (Double Agent) and ITV television broadcaster Bradby’s latest historical espionage thriller is set amid the political turmoil of Iran in the 1950s. Recently retired and recently widowed British Intelligence lifer Harry Towers learns that his estranged son Sean, a muckraking journalist in Tehran, has disappeared after publishing a piece about government corruption there. Harry can’t shake the feeling that the morally ambiguous choices he made in Tehran during his intelligence career have come back to haunt him, in the form of Sean’s disappearance, and he decides to take action. Against the backdrop of an impending coup, Harry travels to Tehran and revisits his old life there as he begins his search. He joins forces with Sean’s fiancée, Shahnaz, but soon discovers that her motivations are as questionable as everyone else’s. The novel’s ending has a twist that’s unusual in a spy thriller, and Bradby’s writing is crisp. After an awkward start, his story gathers momentum and becomes hard to put down.
VERDICT The atmospherics, geopolitical issues, montage writing style, and protagonist’s moral ambiguities will remind readers of spy novels by Jack Higgins and Frederick Forsyth.
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