The Italian Couple
As a British spy and Soviet mole Edgar Davies knew, and as everyone else in MI6 must have known, there was only one way to catch a spy and that was to discover him in his act of betrayal. Davies, an ordinary man disenchanted with his life, plans to defect to the Soviet Union and bring with him years worth of British operational secrets. From Leopoldville in the Congo, to the quiet South American capital of Montevideo, Uruguay, Doomed Spy is a psychological spy thriller set in an unconventional distant posting at the height of the Cold War.
At the center of the intrigue are three intelligence officers: Edgar Davies, a seasoned British MI6 officer posted to Montevideo, Anastas Molotov, a young KGB officer who had befriended him last year in Africa, and now wants to defect and, across town operating from his secure attic command post in the Italianate mansion that is the Soviet Embassy, the KGB Rezident, Colonel Oleg Nadiensky.
Davies and Nadiensky are seasoned operatives in the opaque clandestine world of espionage. But to the casual eye, and on the diplomatic cocktail circuit where the two are never seen together, the Britisher is not what he seems. He has close secret ties to the Rezident who recruited him years ago in Belgium. All the while Molotov is carefully crafting his own plan to defect to the British, bringing with him an explosive secret.
With a cast of unforgettable characters, and a compelling plot, Doomed Spy is an extraordinarily evocative human drama charged with friendship, illicit love, and betrayal that powerfully evoke the tension, people, and intrigue of the Cold War.
“Now, tell me,” he said waving at the window. “We’re almost there. What do you think? Is it to your liking? Have a look. Go on. Tell me.”
They had arrived in town and the driver of the Fiat bus—its engine wheezing and the gears crashing—was beginning a wide slow turn onto the Viale Roma. The name of the street was on a metal nameplate affixed to the wall of a building on the corner.
Viale Roma was an important street with dusty palms spaced at even intervals aligned on either side. They drove up one short block after another, the bus plodding through the congestion of anxious automobiles, the shouting drivers honking their horns. Facing either side of the street was a run of low, whitewashed ochre-colored buildings with common walls and walking past was a mélange of unhurried Italians wearing Western clothes and sunglasses crowding the sidewalks. The native people, who looked out of place, wore long, drab-looking ankle length attires while the women wrapped their heads and shoulders in shawls. Aiscroft noticed at one point how, as they drove past a prominent three-story building, the sidewalk was cast in shadows and how the pedestrians passing into the gloom reappeared shortly blinking into the bright African sun.
Many of the establishments—their Italian names painted in bright contrasting colors over the entrances—fronted outdoor cafes where patrons sat contentedly beneath tan umbrellas at little round tables sipping coffee from small white cups. Aiscroft decided it looked as if it all had been transplanted from somewhere in southern Italy. It seemed to him, in the orderly way in which it was all laid out, that it was some planner’s vision of how a small and proper Italian town should look. And the reminiscent architecture and mixture of European and indigenous peoples mingling in the street brought to mind Benghazi and Tripoli where a similar Italian presence had transformed those places as well.
A moment later the driver pulled to the curb. They had arrived at the airline’s ticket office. He looked over his shoulder. “Biglietteria,”—ticket office, he called out turning off the noisy engine and as the bus shuddered to a silence everyone got to their feet, and formed a single impatient line between the rows of narrow bench seats.
Paola, Chef Modici’s short, attractive, and much younger wife, was animated at his return, and rushed to her husband as he stepped down from the bus. With a wide brim white hat, long thick dark hair splayed across her shoulders, and her face carefully made up, she wore a fetching black and white sleeveless dress and held her sunglasses down at her side. The chef kissed her hurriedly and unemotionally on the cheek, and gave her a quick embrace before pulling away.
In a throaty sensual voice that surprised Aiscroft, she asked. “How was your trip, darling? Were you unhappy without me?” Uncertain, she smiled. “I missed you.”
He laughed at her. “Of course I was unhappy,” he chortled—“miserable, in fact.”
“And Emilio? How’s he? You two got along? No arguments this time?”
“No but Emilio never changes. Still it’s good to see him, if only twice a year.”
“He’s your brother, you should.”
“Sometimes I wonder. I was thinking on the plane coming home. He can’t be bothered to visit us in Asmara,” he said in a huff. “So it’s me that has to take the time and spend the money and go up there and stay at that damn hotel if I want to see him. I can’t even stay with him because his wife’s always sick.”
“It was your decision, Gino. Don’t go again, if you don’t want to. Maybe he’ll come here next time.”
“I’ll wait forever,” he grumbled.
“He’ll always be your brother, darling,” she said reaching to stroke his arm. “No matter where he lives. Maybe next time call him instead of flying all that way.” She dropped her arm and turned to look unabashedly at Aiscroft. “Gino?” she asked. “Who is this gentleman with you?”
She smiled at Aiscroft and gave him a look that was equal parts sympathy and interest. “He’s been standing there so patiently waiting for...”
“Ah, yes,” he said jerking around to Aiscroft. “My apologies.”
“Quite all right.”
“Paola,” he said to her, as if about to read a proclamation, “this is Mister Aiscroft, a reporter from Rome. He’s an Englishman. This is my wife, Paola,” he told Aiscroft nodding at her.
Paola slid her sunglasses on, bathed him in a wider smile, and limply extended her hand. “Welcome, Mister Aiscroft, so nice to meet you. I was wondering when Gino might tell me who you were.”
The sidewalk was becoming congested with luggage and passengers ready to board the bus to the airport, so they crossed the street. The avenue was clouded with exhaust, as they dodged the two lines of traffic and steered clear of the ever-present boys leading strings of indifferent camels and donkeys. Modici headed unerringly toward his gleaming maroon Lancia Augusta Berlina parked at the curb while mentioning to Paola they would be giving their guest a ride to his hotel.
“Where are you staying, Mister Aiscroft?” she asked looking at him closely as they stood alongside the car while Modici scrutinized the sheet metal for any signs of damage his wife might have caused in his absence.
“The Colonia,” called out Modici overhearing her question. Satisfied with his inspection he pulled open the passenger door for Paola. “Get in,” he said impatiently. “I have to go to the restaurant.”
“Lovely hotel,” Paola told Aiscroft before ducking into the car. “The best in Asmara. Did Gino tell you about it? You should be comfortable there,” she said.
“Yes, Paola, I told him. He’s already booked there,” said Modici slamming her door shut. “Now, my friend,” he said frowning at Aiscroft behind his sunglasses. “We should go. I have a busy day ahead of me.”
*Giveaway is now closed.
*Giveaway is now closed.
J.R.Rogers is giving away one ebook copies of "The Italian Couple."
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During WW2 one country that had previously been allied with Nazi Germany switched sides. In 1943 they decided to back the Allies and officially declared war on Germany. What was the name of that country?
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The Italian Couple
Born in Paris of American parents, J.R. Rogers is a writer who has lived and worked in southern California since the 1980s. He holds a degree in French literature and later studied short story writing at the University of California, Irvine. Fluent in French he has worked principally in quality management and as a writer for a number of firms in both Canada and the United States. His writing focus over the course of his last two books—and that of his forthcoming novel—has been pre-World War II historical novels of espionage and intrigue set in Africa, where he lived for three years in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He began writing and publishing short stories in 1996 and since 2008 has written seven historical fiction novels.