In the vein of Graham Greene and John le Carré, The Matchmaker deliversa chilling Cold War spy story set in West Berlin, where an American woman targeted by the Stasi must confront the truth behind her German husband's mysterious disappearance.
Berlin, 1989. Protests across East Germany threaten the Iron Curtain and Communism is the ill man of Europe.
Anne Simpson, an American who works as a translator at the Joint Operations Refugee Committee, thinks she is in a normal marriage with a charming East German. But then her husband disappears and the CIA and Western German intelligence arrive at her door.
Nothing about her marriage is as it seems. She had been targeted by the Matchmaker—a high level East German counterintelligence officer—who runs a network of Stasi agents. These agents are his "Romeos" who marry vulnerable women in West Berlin to provide them with cover as they report back to the Matchmaker. Anne has been married to a spy, and now he has disappeared, and is presumably dead.
The CIA are desperate to find the Matchmaker because of his close ties to the KGB. They believe he can establish the truth about a high-ranking Soviet defector. They need Anne because she's the only person who has seen his face - from a photograph that her husband mistakenly left out in his office - and she is the CIA’s best chance to identify him before the Matchmaker escapes to Moscow. Time is running out as the Berlin Wall falls and chaos engulfs East Germany.
But what if Anne's husband is not dead? And what if Anne has her own motives for finding the Matchmaker to deliver a different type of justice?
Paul Vidich is the acclaimed author of The Matchmaker, The Mercenary, The Coldest Warrior, An Honorable Man, and The Good Assassin. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, LitHub, CrimeReads, Fugue, The Nation, Narrative Magazine, and Wordriot. He lives in New York City.
"Edgy. At first, The Mercenary seems an outstanding example of a familiar sort of spy saga. But there's more to Alek Garin than most people know.”
– Tom Nolan, The Wall Street Journal
"Paul Vidich has staked himself a claim as one of the foremost espionage novelists working today, and he’s back this year with The Mercenary, an insightful and thought-provoking story about the attempted exfiltration of a KGB man from 1980s Moscow. In short, this promises to be one of the year’s premier spy novels."
– CrimeReads, "The Most Anticipated Crime Books of 2021"
"Evoking without imitating classic le Carré. Vidich supplements the world-weariness we expect from cold warriors in the game too long by giving Garin a satisfyingly contrarian 'contempt for Agency puppetteers.'"
"This tense and humane Cold War spy thriller will keep readers in suspense right up to the climactic border crossing."
– Shelf Awareness
“Justly praised by his peers, Vidich is an espionage novelist who deserves to be more widely known. His noir cold war spy stories are laced with echoes of Graham Green and Eric Ambler. A finely written, taut novel.”
– The Financial Times
“A richly detailed work of investigative crime writing perfect for fans of procedurals and spy fiction alike.”