Review: The Fourth Protocol (Frederick Forsyth)

Kim Philby is a former British intelligence officer who defected to the Soviet Union in 1963 after he was revealed to have been spying for the KGB. Now a retired KGB officer, he prepares a memorandum for the General Secretary (or the Soviet president) about the possibility of formation of a Marxist-Leninist government in Britain after the general elections of 1987. Philby and the General Secretary then hatch Plan Aurora, which involves smuggling of a small atomic bomb into Britain and exploding it near a US air base to turn public support in favor of the Labour Party. Once the Labour Party is in power, the "hard left" faction in the party would take over from the moderate left leaders.

The "illegal" agent, Valeri Petrofsky is sent to Britain to accopmplish this mission and the parts of the bomb are sent by different couriers so that it can be assembled there. One of the couriers is attacked by thugs and taken to hospital where he decides to commit suicide to avoid questioning about the polonium disc that he was supposed to deliver to the Soviet agent. MI5 agent John Preston, who investigates the case finds that polonium is used in the initiator of an atomic bomb. Preston's search for Petrofsky forms the rest of the story.

The title of the book refers to the protocol of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (1968) that prohibits smuggling of atomic bombs or their parts into other countries and exploding them there. Like in most of his books, Forsyth blends facts with fiction to make the story sound credible. For example, Philby really did exist and the description of his life until the late 1960s is mostly accurate; the rest of it came from Forsyth's imagination.

In the style typical to Forsyth's books, a major portion of the book explains the working of the intelligence agencies involved (KGB, MI5 and MI6) and the politics that leads up to the plot. It is only towards the ending of the book that the pace quickens up a little and the biggest twists in the story are not revealed until the final few lines of the book.

My Rating: 7/10

Other Reviews:

Between the Covers (Rating: B)


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