Years ago I bought a CD by Metallica, because one day I was listening to the radio and I heard a song they covered, "Whiskey in the Jar". I recognized that song as something of a folk song, probably Irish. I had another version on another CD by the Pogues. I didn't feel the radio had done the Metallica version justice, it being radio and all, so I was interested in seeing how it really sounded on a half way decent sound system. Well I was surprise. This most metallic of hard rock bands did a very good job, I thought. There was a depth and richness to their version I did not expect. It was very well done.
The Russia House is like Metallica's version of Whiskey in the Jar. It has an extraordinary amount of richness and depth to it. It is a spy story, with Barley Blair being a reluctant spy, set in the final years of the Soviet Union. People are doing things that could cause them to end up in a Soviet prison or worse. Portions of it are quite tense, and especially as it approached the end, I was wondering what was going to happen. I didn't really expect what actually did happen.
When you get down to it, the book is about people. Human, very fallible, complex people, some who have goals which are perhaps at odds with what they should be.
This book had a good story & plenty of suspense, but I don't believe there was physical confrontations. No one shot anyone, nothing blew up, I don't think anyone even took a swing at anybody. But people spent a lot of time in various states of fear. And like the fog of war, no one quite knew the big picture, and there was a lot of disagreement about what had actually happened once it was over. Nothing was neat and tidy.
It is the anti-Icarus Agenda, and comes off being vastly more believable.