In a Cold War spy story set in 1989 Berlin, an American woman married to an East German—Anne Simpson— must confront the truth behind his mysterious disappearance when she discovers he was a spy reporting back to an East German counterintelligence officer known as the Matchmaker.
As Simpson peels away layers of secrets at the heart of her marriage, including her husband’s connection to the shadowy and dangerous titular character, the suspense ratchets up—slowly, slowly, then all at once ... There is a casual elegance to Vidich’s spy fiction (now numbering five books), a seeming effortlessness that belies his superior craftsmanship. Every plot point, character motivation and turn of phrase veers toward the understated, but they are never underwritten. The Matchmaker is an ideal entrance into Vidich’s work, one that should compel new readers to plumb his backlist.
Paul Vidich...masterfully details how Simpson was duped in the months before the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall ...The strength of the book is the recounting of historical events, many now forgotten or having occurred in another generation. Vidich vividly describes protests in the street and the suspenseful hours as East Berliners learn the order had been given to open the border. But the novel also raises questions such as what happened to the Stasi officials after the Wall came down in 1989. As noted in the book, practically nothing. And why not? History, it appears, is worth studying, for the lessons it delivers.
Vidich is keen on recreating the atmosphere of a classic Cold War thriller which he does very well. Anne Simpson is a unique creation, providing a different perspective on the times from the usual. The feel of the novel is bolstered by iconic locations and events, evoking the use of the Cold War checkpoints for instance. This is a spy thriller that pays homage to the best of the genre, it’s full of
the tropes and twists of a conventional spy thriller, but has an originality and modern sensibilities. One aspect of The Matchmaker is the way Vidich intertwines the fiction with the political change and historical events of a pivotal moment in history. Ambitious and satisfying, this novel handles complexity with clarity and style.