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Thriller set in MOSCOW

8th March 2023

The Translator by Harriet Crawley, thriller set in MOSCOW.

Thriller set in MOSCOW

Clive Franklin is a Russian language expert for the Foreign Office (UK) and he is on a sabbatical in the Highlands. In fact, he is at Lochleven, which coincidentally recently featured as a location in Peter May’s climate thriller A Winter Grave.

Clive is brought urgently back to work, to accompany a delegation to Moscow, headed by the Prime Minister. He is clear that he wishes to be considered a translator, not an interpreter and slides into the job with ease. Early on he has down time to revisit familiar places and familiarise himself once again with streets and buildings of the impressive city, and of course, a trip to the Bolshoi is in order. The Metropol gets a good look in, with its curious coloured marble and which was made so famous through the Amor Towles’ novel A Gentleman in Moscow, where the hotel was a character in itself.

The British PM might be a woman in this novel and Serov might be Putin by any other name, the acuity and similarities for readers cannot be overlooked. There is Russian interference, blame and bluster, fudging and smoke screens, threats and counter-threats that all feel so depressingly familiar from contemporary international relations in the real world, the deviousness is excellently captured in this novel.

Clive happens upon an old lover, Marina, interpreter to the Russian President, who plays games and is apparently slow to recognise him. But she has an agenda. The two uncover a plot, designed by Russia, that will cause immeasurable harm to the West. Clive, a man keen to remain in the background, is catapulted into a tight web of intrigue and espionage. There are so many plates to keep spinning for this quiet man, as he reconnects with Marina in a way that he would never have envisaged.

The sense of place is excellent in The Translator and as the story progresses, the tension and pace ratchet up, symbolically mirrored in the two main characters running the Moscow Marathon, the FSB hard on their heels.

This really is a political spy thriller for our times.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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  1. User: Yvonne @Fiction_Books

    Posted on: 10/03/2023 at 10:59 am

    I really liked the sound of this one, good modern day spy thrillers are actually not that numerous.

    I was a bit taken back though when I read the author’s bio on Amazon, where it seems as though she has had a foot in both camps, so to speak. She has stood for both the Westminster and European Parliaments, whilst having launched a technical publishing business for a Russian oil and gas company.

    Maybe in this day and age, a bit of a conflict of interests?

    The book still sounds good though 🙂