PanThe Times (UK)It is bold to write a novel about the power of literature because, inevitably, this puts the reader on high alert as to the quality of your prose. Prescott’s writing is bewilderingly flat and her observations clichéd ... Potentially dramatic storylines are wasted opportunities: two women in the CIA embark on a passionate affair with dreadful consequences, but their relationship never quite rings true. The most interesting plotline concerns an experienced femme fatale-type spy who is sexually assaulted by a colleague, then ousted from the service, but this is under-explored too. Prescott says that her novel contains direct descriptions and quotes from first-hand accounts of the events she has fictionalised, which include 99 memos and reports relating to the Zhivago mission that the CIA released in 2014. This may explain some of her heavy-footed prose, but sadly can’t excuse it.