Grade: Γ — Good book within the genre. Solid story, good characters, if you like this genre, read this book.
Hidden Moon has all the intrigue and fascination of a LeCarré novel, combined with an affable, sarcastic hero whose outlook makes one understand how good people can support a corrupt system. Set in North Korea, we find the Intrepid Inspector O continuing his struggle to be a good policeman. This time, he is assigned to investigate a Bank Robbery, something almost unheard of in North Korea. The case soon spirals into intrigue as it becomes clear that powerful domestic and foreign concerns are involved in crime. A stand alone story that builds on the previous volume, Hidden Moon was a great read that I highly recommend to any who enjoy tales of Espionage.
Modern Day North Korea
The second book in the Inspector O series maintained the suspense and delight of the first, turning an interesting novel into an exciting new series. Picking up sometime after the conclusion of the A Corpse in the Koryo, O now reports to a new superior, who fears the protagonist’s unorthodox methods, not to mention the man’s blatant disregard the political power games that dominate the bureaucratic landscape of his country.
O quickly runs afoul of his new CO when he is assigned to investigate a Bank Robbery in which the perpetrators use silk stockings to disguise themselves. Since both Bank Robberies and silk stockings are extremely rare in the capital of the Communist dictatorship, O immediately knows something strange is afoot. Following the clues and his instincts, he is drawn into a web of intrigue.
Added to his problems are the attentions of a British Intelligence Officer, who seems intent on turning O into a ‘resource’ for his own agency. In his own way, however, O is a patriot with no desire to support the West.
This element, more than any other, is what sets James Church and the Inspector O series apart from other modern espionage novels. O is not a cardboard cutout Hero. He is not working to overthrow a corrupt government, nor an unwitting dupe in a master spy chess game. O is an extremely intelligent and affable man who knows the problems with his country, but still works within the system, trying to keep the peace (as it where).
If you miss the LeCarre-esque tales of Cold War espionage, buy this book. This series captures some of the same realistic feel as the old Smiley series. It is not a shadow or copy of another era, however, the Inspector O series stands totally on its own.