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Red to Black: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, June 15, 2010

3.4 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The pseudonymous Dryden, a British journalist, eschews both technological marvels and implausible action scenes in his absorbing debut, a spy thriller that exposes the links between the old Russia of the Cold War and the new Russia of Vladimir Putin. In 1999, Anna, a colonel in the Russian foreign intelligence service, becomes romantically involved with Finn, an MI6 agent stationed in Moscow whom she deliberately targets for seduction. Meanwhile, Finn has learned of the Plan, a long-nurtured and fiercely guarded scheme to undermine the West. Finn and Anna each play a decade-long and dangerous double game as they seek to uncover incontrovertible proof that will thwart the Plan and allow them to leave intelligence work together without fear of reprisals. The detailed accounts of the financial maneuverings of the KGB and its successor, the FSB, are mind-boggling. Despite lackluster prose, Dryden's fact-based scenario provides worrisome food for thought. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“Prescient . . . [Red to Black] depicts a frightening and ruthless Russia, which answers to nobody.” (The Economist )

“Terrifying, quite frankly . . . chillingly unputdownable—everything you didn’t want to know about Putin but were afraid to ask.” (Emma Thompson )

“Alex Dryden’s brilliant and unforgettable novel has told me more about the making of modern Russia than I could learn from all books of journalism and contemporary history combined...nothing short of miraculous.” (Stephen Fry )

“An exceptional novel by any standard; readers who enjoy a love story mixed with their espionage (à la le Carré‘s The Little Drummer Girl) will appreciate.” (Library Journal (starred review) )

“Dryden has written a superb spy novel....the warning bell that “Red to Black” sounds against Putin’s Russia has a powerful ring, especially when it turns to the KGB.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch )

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; Reprint edition (June 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061803901
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061803901
  • ASIN: B005Q6B45S
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,855,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. M. VINE VOICE on June 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Red to Black ostensibly tells the fictional adventure of Finn, a British MI6 agent, and Anna, a young KGB colonel, who fall in love and must decide whether to defy their respective services and governments in pursuit of the truth about "The Plan" -- an alleged secret power plot being implemented methodically and ruthlessly by Vladimir Putin and other high-echelon politicians in Russia, Europe, and other parts of the world.

Once into this espionage thriller, it is quickly evident that RED TO BLACK's author has chosen the novel form as his carapace for disseminating a real warning about Russia under Putin and his KGB (which, technically, has been restructured as the contemporary FSB). Although the usual disclaimers about this being a fictional work are in place, the reader will recognize the writer's emphasis on making his case rather than on developing characters. As the story opens, Anna, in 2007, is anxiously waiting for Finn in a "safe" house. She passes the time reading his accounts of past clandestine meetings with various contacts as well as recounting her own side of things during the last ten years. These recollections convey "real" information and conjecture about how, supposedly, oil and natural gas and arms and drug shipments (among other things) are converted to billions, even trillions, in cash and bank balances. Literally, RED TO BLACK follows the money and ties together a plausible theory of how these massive, illegal transactions may be changing the geopolitical playing field in Putin's Russia's favor.

In case the book itself leaves any doubt, the author himself has suggested this fictional story is perhaps the only way to write about Russia right now.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Alex Dryden has crafted an intense and riveting novel of espionage and romance. Finn was the British agent assigned to Russia with the cover job of Secretary of Trade and Investment for the British government. However in the higher circles of Russian espionage it was suspected he worked for MI6. The Russians arranged for Finn to meet Anna, the enticing and beautiful young colonel in the KGB, now known as FSB. Each government expected their agent to be spying on their adversary to obtain information they obviously would use against the other. The opposite agencies each encouraged a romance in hopes their counterpart would become so emotionally involved they would drop some highly guarded secret into their lap. What neither agency counted on was ... the pair began to respect each other's role and developed genuine feelings of love for the other. They each produced credible reports for their bosses about the activities of the opposite side, just enough to quell any suspicions but what they really longed for was to live ordinairy lives - to be no longer under the scrutiny of their agencies. The author provides excellent character development making Finn and Anna feel very real and well fleshed out both in personality and family backgrounds.

It is after Finn is removed from his role and returns back to Britain, retired from his espionage work, that the action really begins. He becomes a renegade agent, clandestinely researching the clues he obained about who holds the true power in Russia. He researches how money is laundered from the Russian Mafia and other wealthy Russian millionaires and billionaires into Western European banks, trying to discover who holds the real power in Russia. As the saying goes "follow the money".
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Red to Black" seems to be a spy-thriller romance that is loaded with apparently accurate deep real-world Russian and KGB/SVR history -- that is appropriate for this novel. Some folks may be a bit put-off by the regular doses of detailed history, names and data. As for me -- this novel has equally regular waves of spy-thriller romantic personal adventure -- spot-on to flesh-out the technical [historical] detail. When this kind of close-up adventure within the big-picture is well-done it can work-out just fine -- as with "Red to Black". Be warned, however, that there is only a moderate amount of grim violence and dark suspense -- as compared to many such spy-versus-spy sagas -- yet maybe even more realistic for that. Much espionage work seems to be just that -- tricky careful investigative work. With current political events unfolding between USA, Europe and Russia there may be added spice to such an interesting novel +++
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Dryden's Red To Black is an excellent espionage yarn, in the vein of the older LeCarre books. It features interesting and believable characters, very well written dialogue, a plot of relentlessly increasing menace, and a very good sense of history and historical context.

Dryden's main characters are Finn, a British spy, and Anna, a colonel in Russia's SVR, who is tasked with keeping an eye on Finn's activities. Naturally, they fall in love, and now each of them is playing a very serious game, with multiple often conflicting roles to play. Finn's rogue tracking down of a monstrous conspiracy forms the main thrust of the story, but there is enough great background, not-especially-disguised commentary on very recent history as concerns Russia/Putin and the rest of the world, and characters leading to substantial subplots to keep the reader turning pages.

It's an excellent spy thriller and recommended to fans of the genre.
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