Soviets, scientists, and CSIS all conspire to make this novel much more than just another post-Cold War thriller.
Anna’s Shadow by David Manicom (Véhicule Press) is the story of a bored diplomat assigned to debrief the beautiful, brilliant Russian scientist who seeks asylum inside his Moscow embassy. It sounds like just another post-Cold War thriller about the deterioration of the Evil Empire, but it’s actually a thoughtful and nuanced Canadian literary novel. Adrian Well, the hero, is a junior diplomat who knows more about wheat prices than particle physics or shifty spies. Anna Mikataev’s research involves the bending of light, which could enable cloaking and invisibility technologies, and attracted attention even when she worked in her obscure Siberian lab. The novel evokes early 1990s Moscow, including changing loyalties, the growth of global corporate interests, constant coups and the restructuring of Soviet bureaucracy. The story skips between present-day CSIS agents who are trying to discover Well’s exact role, the growing relationship between Well and Mikataev as he questions her in the embassy basement, and the events in Siberia that led Anna to seek Canadian protection. The science is engaging, and the plot builds suspensefully to an unexpected ending.