After the TV series “The Americans” and reading some John Le Carré, Paul Vidich’s “The Coldest Warrior” (No Exit Press) had an opportunity with me to like it, really like it. I was ready for this, but I stumbled at the beginning of with Vidich’s preface which informs that Frank Olsen, the subject of the documentary “Wormwood”, was Vidich’s uncle. Oddly, I find this sort of admission disarming as do not care how close a piece of fiction comes to reality. I acknowledge that I might be in the minority. Vidich writes, “My novel puts a human face on the Cold War by focusing on the psychological burdens of its characters rather than on Byzantine plot, or high politics.” Hey wait, I’m back on board.
The novel opens in the 1950s with a CIA scientist “falling or jumping” from his hotel window. Then we are in the 70s and “The Coldest Warrior” focuses on Jack Gabriel, the CIA agent tasked with investigating suicide twenty years later. Vidich moves the book along, characters are introduced, stakes are claimed, but my mind keeps on wandering back to the trueness of the book. That admission nagged and nagged at me deterring me from enjoying the book. If you don’t care about such things and are into the Cold War espionage, Paul Vidich’s “The Coldest Warrior” delivers.