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Khyber Pass

165 pages2 hours


This historical novel, set in Washington, Moscow, and Pakistan in the 1980’s, imagines a Soviet attempt to install a puppet government in Pakistan in the last years of the Cold War. Two related stories unfold side by side. The first is the seduction, sexual and political, of a Pakistani general. A beautiful Soviet agent bewitches Bezar, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Pakistan, playing to his vanity and love of luxury. Her Moscow bosses have selected him as the man to overthrow the government in Islamabad and take over, turning Pakistan from an American ally to a Soviet client state.
In Washington, a parallel seduction is taking place. “John Wilson,” as he calls himself, had had a romantic relationship with Karen Donohue, now Deputy National Security Advisor to the President, back when they were in high school. Then, he was called Pierre, and was the son of a Soviet diplomat posted to Washington. Now he reappears in her life with a secret rendezvous in Mexico. After years with no contact, he begs her to take him back. Lonely Karen believes that he is sincere, and the two start living together. Now, though, she is in a highly sensitive government position, and accepting cover identities and arranging secret rendezvous are dangerous breaches of security.
Don McDermit, an alert FBI agent, suspects that “John” is not who he says he is, and is determined to get to the bottom of his identity. As McDermit piles up evidence of John’s true background and motives, Karen must accept that she is living not with a long-lost beloved, but with a KGB spy. She also realizes how seriously she has compromised herself by not revealing that she knew that John and Pierre were one and the same. The only way Karen can redeem herself is to pretend that she and John are closer than ever, in order to feed him—and the Kremlin—disinformation about American intentions. Whether John/Pierre swallows the bait will determine the outcome of the Soviet-sponsored Pakistani coup d’état, and the balance of global power.

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