Finder’s The Moscow Club, re-released this
past Christmas, is a realistic novel about the Russian coup.
If the reader wants a change of pace from terrorist based
Middle East thrillers this is the book to delve into. Originally
written as a contemporary novel, it has now become a historical
novel since its plot is based on a coup overthrowing Mikhail
The characters are well developed and interesting. The heroes
are Charlie Stone, a CIA analyst and his estranged wife, Charlotte.
Both are intellectual, and tough individuals, who are able
to piece together a conspiracy by a group of Kremlin insiders
working with rogue CIA individuals. Stone also finds himself
having to prove his innocence after he’s accused of
murder. To get to the truth, he travels across the US and
throughout Europe, ending up in the Soviet Union.
The villain is Winthrop Lehman, who is based on Armand Hammer.
Finder told blackfive.net he wrote the book “to show
how Hammer was friendly with Lenin. Here was a billionaire
industrialist who had easy access to the White House and was
working with the Russians against American interests. I used
fiction as a way to tell a larger truth about Hammer. My contacts
in the CIA were more willing to talk to me if I wrote a novel.
I knew he would make a compelling villain in the story.”
A powerful quote from the book, describes how after Gorbachev
is overthrown he will be replaced with “a right wing,
neofascist Soviet leadership that will be dangerous.”
Finder wanted to point out the way the Russian government
worked and that today’s leadership is no different.
“I predicted it. I remember having many arguments as
to what will happen in Russia. So many people thought the
bad guys were gone from Russia and the good guys were in control.
I kept emphasizing it does not work that way. People in power
want to keep their power. I wanted to show glimpses of what
Russia is really like.”
He did that by showing how the Russians broke up families
and many times held a wife or child behind as a hostage to
ensure someone’s cooperation. He also goes into great
detail on how the Russians tortured and murdered those who
did not agree with the government. The author explores the
question of Lenin’s death, which becomes a central part
of the plot. Was he poisoned instead of dying a natural death?
An interesting side note is that it was written pre-9/11.
There are parts of the book that can never happen today. For
example, the easiness of getting a fake passport, crossing
the border between US and Canada, getting a plane ticket at
the last minute by paying with cash, and sneaking a gun through
the detectors. Finder commented that he actually had someone
field test sneaking a gun on a plane from Boston to Washington.
The reader can compare how rules have changed in this nation
The Moscow Club is an engrossing spy novel. It is
insightful since it was written about the Russian coup months
before it actually happened. It delves into the Russian culture
and political scene. The plot is believable and it is a quick
read for those who like engrossing thrillers.