Fic­tion

Tro­jan Horse

  • Review
By – January 22, 2021

S. Lee Manning’s Tro­jan Horse explores polit­i­cal intrigue and cor­rup­tion at the high­est lev­els of gov­ern­ment. Ques­tions of decep­tion, loy­al­ty, and con­science are what makes this thriller so absorb­ing — ques­tions with which, on a small­er scale, we all must grapple.

Mar­garet Brad­ford is at the helm of the ECA, a top-secret Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment agency. On her team are Jonathan Egan, the son of a for­mer sen­a­tor, who grew up mix­ing with the Wash­ing­ton elite; and Kolya Petrov, a Russ­ian Jew­ish émi­gré. The team begins to sus­pect that a high gov­ern­ment offi­cial must be a mole: three agents have already been killed by the noto­ri­ous Mihai Cuza, a Roman­ian nation­al who has the ear of the next leader of Romania.

Brad­ford and the ECA are try­ing to find infor­ma­tion to take down Mihai Cuza. Their lat­est plan is to cre­ate a Tro­jan horse, a com­put­er mal­ware that mis­leads the user of its true intent. But decep­tion is not reserved for the ene­my: with­out his knowl­edge, Kolya is also des­ig­nat­ed to take a fall.

On the sur­face, Tro­jan Horse is an action sto­ry about secret agents fight­ing to main­tain pow­er and con­trol. As the nov­el pro­gress­es, how­ev­er, ques­tions of fair­ness and the val­ue of human life rise to the sur­face. How far can you take a risk with a person’s life? When should you step in and do some­thing about an issue you think is wrong? One of Mihai Cuza’s men becomes uncom­fort­able with the vio­lence in which he is caught up. He tries to jus­ti­fy his behav­ior: I knew what they’d do to him, but since I didn’t have to take part, I didn’t think about it.” Ulti­mate­ly, Man­ning shows, it is not so easy to fool yourself.”

Tro­jan Horse is a high­ly enter­tain­ing read (although read­ers should be pre­pared for some descrip­tive vio­lence). It con­tains plen­ty of sus­pense and fast-paced action, but also ideas that will leave the read­er think­ing long after the nov­el is put back on the shelf.

Mer­le Eis­man Car­rus resides in New Hamp­shire and writes book reviews for the NH Jew­ish Reporter news­pa­per. She is a grad­u­ate of Emer­son Col­lege and received her Mas­ters of Jew­ish Stud­ies from Hebrew Col­lege. She blogs her book reviews at biteofthebookworm@​blogspot.​com

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