Welcome to the Hotel Yalta by Victoria Dougherty is a collection of “six stories of cold war noir.” (Kindle Location 1). The novel was published in 2016 and is dedicated to: “For those who love the cold,” and has a quote establishing the tenor of the collected stories. “Death is the solution to all problems. No man—no problem.” —Joseph Stalin. (location 13).
In the heyday of the Soviet Union, an entrenched espionage bureaucracy had several elements that competed. They did it up close and personal with casualties. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, all semblance of rules that the varied organizations had paid lip service to went into free fall. Things resembled what one can see in films about California gang warfare, but with more torture and casualties. The six stories below are intricate and complex illustrations of realistic incidents. Could similar events have happened? Readers will decide. We have seen incidents of mysterious poisonings in Europe, overt radium poisoning, and an attack in an airport involving multiple applications to the face of chemical cloths. Readers won’t see the connection between the offered stories right away, but there is a connecting thread appearing in all stories.
The Hotel Yalta ***** There have been many foreigners who believed the fiction of a Socialist Worker’s Paradise that existed not only in Russia but throughout the USSR. There have been many residents of the “Paradise” who didn’t believe in the myth at all. It was more politic for members of the latter group to pretend feelings of patriotism. There were times when members of each group saw an advantage in exploiting the weaknesses of members of the other group. This is a story of what happens when opponents meet.
A Legacy Or A Residue ***** This tale is one of mostly reluctant spies. But willing, reluctant, full-time, or part-time, the reality is frequently more brutal than incidents seen on film or read about.
Stepping On The Throat Of His Own Song ***** A life spent ascending the ladders of success in the world of espionage will surely be rewarded. That is the thought that keeps bureaucrats working hard at parceling out secrets to politically significant people. It is good not to make mistakes or choose friends unwisely. The rewards take on the appearance of consequences, as in this story.
The Hungarian’s Kiss ***** Beryx was a very talented spy. He was certainly better than some of his bumbling employees who he was forced to “retire.” But there was always someone who managed to surprise him. This time it was Adonia.
The Great Detective ***** The Great Detective, Semyonov, knew that even his best interrogation techniques would not work with Beryx Gulyas, a Hungarian with many years of espionage experience. It was better to let him escape. As Gulyas gained confidence, Semyonov would spring his surprise. Comrade General would be pleased.
The Perfect Man ***** This is a story about the perfect man for a job. It is a story of planned revenge. Who says revenge must always be served cold?
This collection of terrifying spy stories is a five-star Amazon read. It is offered as a free purchase on Amazon. I followed links in the book to the author’s blog, where there is a wealth of impressive reading. I will read more by this author.