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THE WALL
By John Marks

Riverhead Books, 1998 $24.95
ISBN 1-57322-122-8

Reviewed by S. E. Warwick

The Wall is a wild ride that goes from the top of the late unlamented Berlin Wall to the bowels of Bucharest in late 1989 as the Cold War melts into oblivion.

Though the story seems surreal, most of it is probably a version of what really happened with the names changed to protect the innocent.

Marks explores what happens to spies and double agents when their raison díÍtre evaporates and rules that govern who lives and dies no longer apply. A confused double agent defects hours before the wall tumbles. His network in disarray, he flees east against a tide of change flooding toward the goods and freedom of the west.

The double agentís brother is an exterminator from Texas, a character so improbable that he must be based on a real person. He is revered in places where infestations are politically incorrect and therefore nonexistent.

Then we have the "good guy," a former black radical, now army intelligence agent who speaks German so perfectly that he is referred to as the "Jet Kraut" by people who may be friends or enemies depending on the phase of the moon. One of the Jet Krautís accomplishments is a spy network in East Germany comprised of people who think they were abducted by UFOís.

If you think this sounds absurd, take a good look at any newspaper, especially the little stories tucked in around the ads on page six, and think about them. Our world is so strange that this somewhat dark and dreary tale has a certain realness about it.

It took Marks a bit too long to get to the last page, but if political intrigue and the absurdity of real life intrigue you, try The Wall.


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