Title: The Bucharest Dossier
Author: William Maz
Published on: 15 March 2022
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers | Espionage
The Bucharest Dossier is William Maz’s debut novel.
Set at the start of Romanian uprising in 1989, the story follows CIA Analyst Bill Hefflin’s journey from USA to Bucharest, Romania. He’s sent to Romania (the country he was born in) on a mission. Boris, a KGB asset has a message for Bill at their designated dead-drop:
“Vasili, you must come to Bucharest to create history. Time is critical.”
But there is a backstory to this. Pincus, a professor at Harvard is killed in his home. He had just returned from college and for a minute he thought he saw his wife sitting on the sofa, watching TV. But that didn’t seem right as she passed away a few years ago. Pincus had doubted if he was followed and right now, an assassin is sitting in his house, smoking a cigarette.
“You have been convicted in absentia of treason,” the man continued, “and we all know what the sentence is.”
The man inserts a needle into Pincus’ nostril and injects poison. Within seconds, Pincus is dead.
As Bill returns to Bucharest, he starts to reminisce his childhood. The times he spent with Tanti Bobo, a gypsy woman who told fortunes for a living and Pusha, a young girl of Bill’s age and his first (and only) love.
Bill is sent to Bucharest as a ‘cultural attaché’ but many do not believe him. Tension prevails throughout the country so why would America send a cultural attaché at this time? Boris has scheduled a meeting with Bill and it is time for Bill to finally come face-to-face with the KGB agent who’s been passing information to the CIA.
As the events start to unfold, Bill realizes the revolution is manipulated by outside sources – including the CIA and Boris.
Of late, I have been alternating between cozy mystery and police procedural and was looking for a change. This book couldn’t come at a better time. The Bucharest Dossier is William’s debut novel and an absolute masterpiece. I will go a step further and say this book is better than all the espionage thrillers I have ever read.
When Bill reaches Romania, there are people from the government following him. They believe he’s a spy. After a day out, he reaches his hotel room to find a woman on his bed – completely naked. She tries to seduce him but he sends her away. Then he meets a man at the hotel bar who shows him photos with the woman on his bed. Bill says he’s not going to fall for such cheap tricks. Then there are people – foreign reporters included – who purposely speak Romanian to see if Bill falls for their dirty trick. But Bill dodges the ball, so as to speak.
Though a work of fiction, the story is loosely based on the events that happened just before the fall of USSR. To name a few: The trial of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu in a kangaroo court, ultimately leading to their execution that was filmed and transmitted on national TV. Then there is the misery endured by Romanian people during the communist rule. While the politicians enjoyed surplus food and drinks, the peasants were starved to death. Farmers were forced to give away every single grain of food they grew – including the ones they kept for themselves.
Corruption, dirty politics and double agents, and will-do-anything-for-money-scenario are very well depicted throughout the story. The story alternates between Bill’s present and past. While the present deals with events leading up to the revolution and Bill’s return to America, the past deals with Bill’s childhood, love affairs and his recruitment into the CIA.
The Bucharest Dossier by William Maz is a very well-written, engrossing, impressive and completely gripping masterpiece. If you are a fan of espionage thrillers, I highly recommend you to give this book a try.
Many thanks to Oceanview Publishing and Edelweiss+ for the ARC.