This is a golden age for spy biographies. Almost every month there is another fascinating portrait of an agent who fought or supported one of the great totalitarian philosophies of the 20th century. I think it is fair to say, though, that no matter how many of those stories get told, none will be as absolutely belief-beggaring as that of Richard Sorge ... Owen Matthews has tremendous fun with Sorge’s life, which is so packed with incident as to be barely credible ... magnificently written ... Stalin didn’t deserve Sorge, and these poor women deserved far better than Sorge too. An Impeccable Spy is packed with humour and insight and all served up with a rare lightness of touch. Ben Macintyre and John le Carré fans alike will find themselves very much at home.
Owen Matthews has rescued Soviet espionage from the prison of the Cambridge Five, and taken it from the tedious and mundane to the intrepid and dauntless with an exhilarating mix of fast women, motorbikes and alcohol ... An Impeccable Spy is based on sets of Russian archives previously unavailable but which Matthews has mined. It’s difficult to imagine who could have done more to introduce Sorge to the West.
Although there are already several books about him, Sorge ought to be much better known. As the journalist Owen Matthews writes in the introduction to his gloriously readable biography, he was irresistibly fascinating, 'an idealistic communist and a cynical liar', a 'pedant, a drunk, and a womaniser ...addicted to risk, a braggart, often wildly indisciplined'. ... Every chapter of Matthews’s superbly researched biography reads like something from an Eric Ambler thriller ... In retrospect, the most extraordinary thing about Sorge’s career is that it took so long for anybody to realise he was a spy.