Johnston sets his story just at the time when the East German regime is being challenged by its people and the Wall starts to crumble - a fascinating time in the Wall's history which has only recently started to be addressed in fiction. As the world turns toward a new, open future, the old rules of the spy game must be honored one last time if all the players are to get out alive.
Johnston's lead character is British secret agent Lorraine Broughton, and it's great to see a spy story with such a strong, multi-layered female character carrying the story. Her presence reflects the changing world, when old certainties and social conventions in the workplace were disappearing; spying, too, is no longer the elite, male world of Bond and Palmer.
Told from the perspective of a post-operation debrief by her superiors, the tale Broughton recounts has all the classic elements you want from a spy novel: fake passports, assassins ("Icemen"), risky crossing of the Wall, clandestine meetings, mis-direction and more twists than a bag of pretzels. Crucially, it has a fantastic denouement that I certainly didn't see coming and which provides a really satisfying finish to a great story.