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Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite
In An Improbable Spy by David Paul Collins, in November 1979, merchant banker Jack Devlin's world falls apart when the US embassy in Tehran is stormed by radical Muslim terrorists and hostages are taken. He is forced to leave his business and girlfriend, Farideh, and escape from Iran. Now he is given the opportunity to rescue Farideh and her sister Leah. The opportunity comes in the form of a joint mission by the CIA and MI6. In return for their safety, Jack must return to Iran and retrieve a ledger containing all the clients and sources of the biggest and most dangerous arms dealer in the Middle East, Mustafa Khaki. The KGB is also rumored to be aiding the Iranians to prevent a successful US rescue of the hostages. Devlin must also make contact with a KGB double agent to extract intel on the Russians' involvement in the embassy siege. If Devlin is unsuccessful, the secret services will deny all knowledge of the mission; if he is successful there is no guarantee he will not be double-crossed himself.
An Improbable Spy by David Paul Collins is an absolute adrenalin rush. The descriptive accounts of the places and events, especially at the roadside checkpoints, were completely believable. Devlin was a realistic character but an unlikely candidate for the mission. His love for Farideh forced him into a dangerous situation that he was not trained for. Each character was interesting, multi-layered, and introduced gradually so they didn't detract from the story. Khaki and his second in command, Ali, were chilling characters who were capable of the most horrific brutality. I loved the twists and turns in the plot and the obstacles Devlin had to overcome were gripping. The psychological game of cat and mouse between Devlin and Khaki is compelling. You are really kept second-guessing if Jack will ever escape; his mission becomes more dangerous the longer he remains in Iran. The author has obvious personal experience of the Middle East and their culture and I wasn't surprised to learn that he was in Iran at the time of the siege.