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...Even if the lion hunter reveals the secret of the lion hunt there will still be plenty of room in the jungle... 
The ideological barriers have collapsed, and it would seem that the glory days of «knights of the cloak and dagger» are gone, never to return. But that is only a superficial impression. In fact, the geopolitical interests of the worlds major powers are at the heart of their national interests and they continue to influence the political shape of the planet. What is more, we now face emerging threats and the new global challenge of international terrorism. Countries that only recently were open enemies have now become allies in the common fight against this terrible evil. And while remaining economic competitors, they have built up their secret services engaged in scientific, technological and economic espionage. The latter is now a quite normal area of business of «stealing somebody elses trade secrets» and is increasingly posing a serious threat to the national interests of the worlds most advanced nations. With the result that the «cold warriors» of old are being succeeded by a new ambitious and aggressive generation of intelligence officers or «spies» successfully using the latest sophisticated equipment and methods drawn from the formidable arsenal of the traditional intelligence services.

To obtain information about new products and processes that influence the formation of prices in the world market, a ruthless behind-the-scenes struggle is being waged by methods which were normally employed to access secret political information in the days of the dramatic historical confrontation between the worlds two superpowers and their intelligence services. This, among other things, has stimulated the current interest among the general public in literature about the operations of yesteryear carried out by the intelligence and counter-intelligence services of the worlds leading nations.

The general readers understandable interest in what was once a classified and «hush-hush» subject matter has spawned a veritable spate of books that have flooded the world book market written in the spy fiction genre. These books usually describe events that took place in the days of the Cold War and whose characters participated in or were privy to the undercover operations of the intelligence services. As someone who was directly involved in the «great confrontation», I must say that only a few of the authors of these books, those who belonged to the «initiated» insiders, succeed in providing a credible and realistic portrayal of the fascinating details and particulars of the murky inner workings of the worlds major intelligence services and in recreating the true atmosphere that surrounded their activities.

The first five books in the «Kremlin Swallow» series are based on fact and deal with events relating to the history of the secret services concerned and also on a certain amount of the authors personal experience.

At the moment I am working on the new sixth installment of the series. Titled «Madam Gali: Operation Aztec Gold», it describes a fascinating sequence of events in Spain. At stake this time is part of Spains gold reserve hidden in Toledo at the start of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The rest of the Spanish gold reserve was secretly moved to the Soviet Union for «safe-keeping» by NKVD agents disguised as Soviet embassy staff. The intriguing question was who would eventually get hold of it: the all-powerful KGB or Gali Legaré, a triple agent who unbeknownst to her Lubyanka runners had spun out of KGB control. The part of the gold reserve still in Spain was hidden in the basement of a building in Toledo. Only two of the original participants in that operation survive: General Alexander Orlov, the former NKVD station chief in Spain, and Arturo Carera, assistant to the former Republican Prime Minister. Many years later this becomes simultaneously known to the foreign intelligence service of the KGB and Gali Legaré, the triple agent of the worlds most powerful intelligence services.

At the KGBs suggestion, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU in Moscow decides to secretly and illegally move the hidden gold from Toledo to the Soviet Union. Gali without telling her KGB runners also tries to get her hands on the Toledo gold. The action of the novel covers the period from the late 1930s to the present day and its heroes become witness to and participants in the dramatic events of recent history — the hijacking of a Sabena aircraft bound for Tel Aviv, the horrible terrorist outrage at the 1972 Munich Olympics, and Mossads retaliation for the PLO massacre of Israeli Olympic athletes.

The scene of the novels action shifts between the USSR, France, Spain, Israel and Lebanon and the texts are laced with interesting information about the history and cultural scene of these countries. Apart from the political component of the novel, the story is enlivened with a generous helping of human passion, steamy sex scenes, unexpected twists and turns of the storyline, all of which makes for light and enjoyable reading for the general reader, with his traditional penchant for suspenseful spy fiction.

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2006 Boris Gromov