Great Summer Reading: Nelson DeMille's "The Charm School".

It is 106° here in Texas.  That is sit-in-the-shade (or better yet, air-condtitioning)  and read a book weather.

One of the recent news stories reminded me of a good book, worth recommending.

Spies Among Us.

The allegations were shocking: four couples living in the U.S. under assumed false identities while secretly working as covert Russian spies on long-term, "deep-cover" assignments to obtain information on nuclear weapons.

Behind the scenes, they were known as "illegals" — short for illegal Russian agents — and were believed to have fake back stories known as "legends."

U.S. authorities say they sometimes worked in pairs and pretended to be married so they could blend into American society as the couple next door. Aside from fake identities, authorities say, they used Cold War spycraft — invisible ink, coded radio transmissions, encrypted data — to avoid detection.

image from ecx.images-amazon.comIt sounds like a story right out of a Nelson DeMille novel.

Wait, it is the plot-line of one of his best books, The Charm School, written in 1988.

The plot is simple and compelling. Two U.S. diplomats in the Soviet Union discover that many of the U.S. pilots shot down over Vietnam (and classified as Missing-In-Action) ended-up at the KGB-run "Mrs. Ivanova's Charm School". There, the Soviets forced the pilots to teach aspiring Russian spies how to act, speak, and pass as Americans. Once discovered, the embassy and US government have to decide how to react. With Glasnost on the table and the two countries trying to work together, this revelation can destroy everything.

If you are looking for a fun book to read, this is a great story. I recommend it.

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