‘Cold war spy fiction in the grand tradition’ an interview with Paul Vidich, author of The Mercenary (146)

Paul Vidich The Mercenary

From acclaimed spy novelist Paul Vidich comes a taut new thriller following the attempted exfiltration of a KGB officer from the ever-changing—and always dangerous—USSR in the mid-1980s.

Our friend Mike Ripley (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – The Boom in British Thrillers from Casino Royale to the Eagle Has Landed) urged me to read The Mercenary by Paul Vidich asap. Mike knows me well and that I love my spy novels to be gritty, realistic, and preferably set during the Cold War

I was intrigued and sold, reading that author Joseph Kanon himself describes The Mercenary by Paul Vidich as ‘Cold war spy fiction in the grand tradition.' Plus no silhouette man on the cover of the American edition of The Mercenary (nor a ‘this is the next John le Carre' blurb!)

Paul Vidich The Mercenary

On today's Spybrary Spy Book Podcast I was lucky enough to chat with Paul Vidich and find out more about The Mercenary.

In Episode 146 of Spybrary with spy author Paul Vidich we discuss:

  • What was Paul Vidich's inspiration for writing The Mercenary.
  • What kind of reader The Mercenary appeals to? (Actioneers v Realistic)
  • What drew Paul to write an espionage thriller? Moscow features heavily, we find out how Paul Vidich researched Moscow and he reveals how John Beryles the former US Ambassador to the Russian Federation 2008-12 helped him,
  • Paul tells us more about the protagonist ‘Garin.'
  • We talk locations, settings and why the books was set in the Soviet Union of the mid-80s.
  • Paul reveals that as part of his research, he read over 30 books including autobiographies of high-ranking KGB officers who successfully defected to the West. No wonder the tradecraft is so good in this!
  • We learn more about some of the other characters in The Mercenary including Nataliya, Zyuganov, Petrov, Mueller, Talinov and Posner.
  • ‘But shed war of its glory and a soldier’s job is to kill. It’s that simple. And so, shed espionage of its popular mythology, the spy’s job is to lie, deceive, and betray trust.'
  • Shane asks Is The Mercenary a nod to John le Carre and The Spy Who Came In from the cold?
  • The challenges of espionage writing and what are the fun parts!
  • And much more including the world-famous Spybrary Quickfire round!

The Mercenary by Paul Vidich

Moscow, 1985. The Soviet Union and its communist regime are in the last stages of decline, but remain opaque to the rest of the world—and still very dangerous. In this ever-shifting landscape, a senior KGB officer—code name GAMBIT—has approached the CIA Moscow Station chief with top secret military weapons intelligence and asked to be exfiltrated. GAMBIT demands that his handler be a former CIA officer, Alex Garin, a former KGB officer who defected to the American side.

The CIA had never successfully exfiltrated a KGB officer from Moscow, and the top brass do not trust Garin. But they have no other options: GAMBIT's secrets could be the deciding factor in the Cold War.

Garin is able to gain the trust of GAMBIT, but remains an enigma. Is he a mercenary acting in self-interest or are there deeper secrets from his past that would explain where his loyalties truly lie? As the date nears for GAMBIT’s exfiltration, and with the walls closing in on both of them, Garin begins a relationship with a Russian agent and sets into motion a plan that could compromise everything


Spybrary Spy Podcast Discussion Group
Talk more about spy books in our Spybrary discussion group
Support Spybrary Spy Podcast on Patreon
Support Spybrary Spy Podcast on Patreon. Become a Spybrary Supporter

Related Posts