It is summer 1999 in Russia, a country on the threshold of anarchy. An interim president sits powerless in Moscow as his nation is wracked by famine and inflation, crime and corruption, and seething hordes of the unemployed roam the streets. Read more...
- Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
- Date: July 2000
From the book
It was just before noon on the same day, July 16, that Igor Komarov, sitting in his office on the first floor of the dacha off Kiselny Boulevard, contacted his chief personal assistant by intercom.
"The document I lent you yesterday, you have had a chance to read it?" he asked.
"I have indeed, Mr. President. Quite brilliant, if I may say so," Akopov replied. All of Komarov's staff referred to him as Mr. President, meaning president of the executive committee of the Union of Patriotic Forces. They were in any case convinced that within twelve months he would still be Mr. President but for a different reason.
"Thank you," said Komarov. "Then please return it to me."
The intercom went dead. Akopov rose and went to his wall safe. He knew the combination by heart and spun the central dial the required six times. When the door swung open he looked inside for the black-bound file. It was not there.
Puzzled, he emptied the safe, paper by paper and file by file. A cold fear, part panic and part disbelief, gripped him. Taking a hold on himself, he began again. The files on the carpet around his knees were sorted out and examined, sheet by sheet and one by one. No black file. A light sweat beaded his forehead. He had worked contentedly in the office all morning, convinced that before leaving the previous evening he had put every confidential document safely away. He always did; he was a creature of habit.
After the safe, he began on the drawers of his desk. Nothing. He searched the floor under the desk, then every cupboard and closet. Just before one he knocked on Igor Komarov's door, was admitted, and confessed he could not find it.
The man who most of the world presumed would be the next president of Russia was a highly complex personality who, behind his public persona, preferred to keep much of himself intensely private. He could not have been a greater contrast to his predecessor, the ousted Zhirinovsky, whom he now openly referred to as a buffoon.
Komarov was of medium height and build, clean-shaven, with neatly trimmed iron-gray hair. Among his two most evident fetishes were an absorption with personal cleanliness and a deep dislike of physical contact. Unlike most Russian politicians, with their back-slapping, vodka-toasting, arms-around-the-shoulders bonhomie, Komarov insisted on formal dress and manner of speech in his personal entourage. He rarely if ever donned the uniform of the Black Guard and was usually to be found in a double-breasted gray suit with collar and tie.
After years in politics none but a very few could claim to be on close personal terms with him, and no one dared pretend to be an intimate. Nikita Ivanovich Akopov had been his confidential private secretary for a decade but the relationship was still one of master and slavishly devoted servant.
Unlike Yeltsin, who had raised staff members to the rank of drinking and tennis-playing buddies, Komarov would, so far as was known, only permit one man to refer to him by first name and patronymic. That was his Head of Security, Colonel Anatoli Grishin.
But like all successful politicians, Komarov could play the chameleon when he had to. To the media, on the rare occasions when he deigned to meet them personally, he could become the grave statesman. Before his own rallies, he became transformed in a manner that never ceased to evoke Akopov's utter admiration. On the podium the precise former engineer vanished as if he had never been. In his place appeared the orator, a pillar of passion, a sorcerer of words, a man of all the people enunciating their hopes, fears, and desires, their rage and their bigotry, with...
"Vintage Forsyth, intricate, exact and gripping." - The New York Times Book Review
"Frederick Forsyth's latest epic...has reverted to the masterly storytelling that has won him so many fans. But instead of going into the past, he has set Icon in the future, and allowed his imagination to rise above the constraints of the facts that he uses to frame every book. The result is one of his best works for a long time, which provides an all-too-real look at a chilling new millennium." - The Sunday Times, London
"For years, Frederick Forsyth has been known as the man who wrote The Day of the Jackal, the yardstick by which all his subsequent books have been measured. Icon--dare I say it?--is as good or better. What makes this book so special? Because it could easily happen. All the ingredients for disaster are now in place, which makes for a terrifyingly real scenario." - Detroit Free Press
"A tautly written thriller with a big cast of characters that Forsyth juggles with skill...Forsyth's storytelling ability makes Icon one of the best spy novels in recent years." - Star Tribune, Minneapolis