This first novel by Canadian writer Anthony Hyde takes the reader on a treasure hunt through the United States, Canada, France and the Soviet Union in search of a fortune coveted by a very nasty Russian. But the villain is not, as might be expected, an agent of the KGB or its masters.
Rather, he is one of a group of dissidents--if that word can be used in this context--within the Soviet Establishment that feels the Kremlin has botched things. The group, as one of the characters puts it, wants to "turn Russia from a Communist dictatorship into a military one."
The key to the hunt lies in unlocking the mysteries enveloping a Canadian businessman, Harry Brightman, who amassed a fortune in selling Russian furs in the West. Lured into the hunt is the narrator, an ex-journalist, Robert Thorne, a free-lance writer on Soviet affairs whose marriage offer was once spurned by Brightman's devoted adopted daughter, May, a figure as mysterious as her father. Thorne is a relentless pursuer who is able to pull off such miracles as getting a Soviet visa within 48 hours.
Along the way, Thorne probes the complex issue of why Americans and other Westerners became Soviet spies only to be later disillusioned by such events as the Soviet interventions in Czechoslovakia and Hungary.