There is nothing especially innovative about the plot of The Mercenary , which often feels like a homage to The Spy Who Came in from the Cold , but by ’eck it can have few rivals for the grim authenticity of its setting ... Paul Vidich’s visualisation of time and place — people tracked with spy dust, a grey miasma overlaying all — is, however, masterly.
... edgy ... At first, The Mercenary seems an outstanding example of a familiar sort of spy saga. But there’s more to Alek Garin than most people know. Where did he learn to speak Russian? Why is his accent so odd? Family and professional secrets are revealed only gradually. We remain unsure how this conflicted character will fare in a Moscow full of political factions and Agency turncoats.
... a tense and pained study of the loneliness of spycraft, the toll of maintaining dual identities and the terror of living a life where everyone around you might secretly be playing the same game. Vidich's Cold War echoes that of Alan Furst or even John le Carré, a shifting labyrinth of dangers both violent and existential ... almost unbearably suspenseful. But Vidich's tight plotting and focused, polished prose keeps The Mercenary...concise and quick moving, despite the complexity of the story. His attentiveness to the disorienting misery of undercover work, the divided loyalties and threats to identity, power the narrative rather than slow it down. His hero's every interaction is fraught with danger that movie-style violent heroics would only make worse. Vidich dramatizes that dread and that humanity with elegance.