The Plot to Kill Lenin: With Somerset Maugham in Russia
by Joseph Theroux (Western Samoa 1975-78)
$ 4.00 (Kindle); $10.00 (Paperback)
Reviewed by: D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974-76)
This is the seventh book by historian and novelist Joseph Theroux. As with his previous works, it is rich in historical detail. It is 1917 and St. Petersburg has been renamed Petrograd. There are riots, breadlines, and talk of revolution. The secret police, or Cheka, and the Red Guards patrol the streets.
Somerset Maugham and Lloyd Osbourne, in the role of secret agents, have been given the mission to locate the Great Orlov, a stolen imperial jewel, whose value, it is thought, could fund the war against Germany. In addition, Alexander Kerensky, President of the Provisional Government, draws them into a plot to assassinate the leader of the Bolshevik faction, Vladimir Lenin.
With Osbourne in the role of narrator, the author has the two protagonists encounter a remarkable number of historical figures, while attempting to complete their missions and avoid becoming victims of Lenin and the Cheka!
Theroux’s thorough historical research and his masterful storytelling ability make this an enjoyable read, for the summer or any time of year. The book includes chapter notes and a bibliography (Works Consulted), for those who wish to explore the historical references more thoroughly.
D.W. Jefferson was a Peace Corps agriculture volunteer in El Salvador (1974-76) and Costa Rica (1976-77). A blog about his Peace Corps years is at dwjefferson.blogspot.com. He is currently retired from a career in computer software engineering.