The Reluctant Contact

Written by Stephen Burke

Review written by John Parker

John Parker is a Graduate-qualified English/Spanish Teacher, owner and director of CHAT ENGLISH, an English Language Centre in Avilés on the north coast of Spain . A voracious reader, he has particularly loved horror fiction for many years.


The Reluctant Contact
Hodder and Stoughton
RRP: £20.99
Released: September 7 2017
HBK

Set during the winter of 1977, in the Soviet mining outpost on the island of Pyramiden, Yuri, a Russian engineer returns from his brother’s funeral to take up his post once more. He is a man who looks out for himself, tries not to attract undue attention and does not trust anyone.

However, when his number two, a man called Semyon is found dead deep in the mine, Yuri decides to investigate. This is against his better judgement, especially as he detested Semyon but he goes ahead with it anyway.This investigation brings him into conflict with some Lithuanian friends of Semyon and under the scrutiny of the KGB agent, Timur.

At the same time, he begins a stormy love affair with the beautiful Anya, the school teacher in the community. To his surprise, he falls more and more for Anya. She is a strange, enigmatic woman who apparently came to Pyramiden to meet someone. This someone has yet to show their face which drives Anya to despair and more and more dependence on alcohol. Yuri finds himself in a world of secrets and conflicting agendas. Everything he believes about the people around him reveals itself to be mistaken and, in some cases, dangerously untrue. 

Burke’s novel, set in the midst of The Cold War during an endless night is a thoughtful, well-constructed and entertaining novel. It has a harsh, chilly feel to it as Burke’s evocative prose draws us into the story and reminds us of the brutal communist regime of the past. At times it may feel a bit slow but the character development of Yuri is really excellent and his relationship with Anya believable. Being a spy story, there are plenty of twists and turns as secrets are revealed and violence occurs. Burke does enough to maintain our interest until the surprising revelations towards the end of the novel.                   



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