On November 1, 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB officer, sipped tea in the upmarket Millennium Mayfair hotel near the American Embassy in London - tea that had been spiked with a rare radioactive isotope called Polonium 210. Twenty two days later, he was dead. And the mystery behind his murder would be revealed as more baffling and more labyrinthine than any John Le Carré plot.Litvinenko had sought asylum in London and from there had become a fierce critic of Vladimir Putin's government. His is the most high profile of a string of mysterious deaths of a number of Russian dissenters, which heralds a new era of KGB-style authoritarianism and terror. It quickly became known as one of the most mysterious and audacious crimes of the post-Cold War era, and triggered an international investigation led by London's top counterterrorism officials. Blending the pace of a thriller with original reportage and research, The Terminal Spy documents Litvinenko's life and death, the ensuing police investigation, the reaction from Vladimir Putin and others in Moscow, the Russian émigré set in London, and the implications of this case for nuclear proliferation and international terrorism in the future. It is a shocking endictment of how contemptuous of the rule of law certain governments are and an chilling reminder of the power - in every respect - of the New Russia.
"Brilliantly gripping narrative...a true-life tale that would make John le Carre and Frederick Forsyth go weak at the knees"
A true story of espionage, betrayal and murder
Alan Cowell is a British journalist writing for the New York Times. He received the George Polk Award for his coverage of apartheid South Africa, which led to his expulsion from that country. He has also been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for foreign reporting and was awarded the Nathaniel Nash Prize.He lives in Paris and is married with three daughters.
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