VNUKOVO VIP airport, 1961: New York-based publisher Simon Weeks has just touched down in the United Soviet Socialist Republic, granted permission by the KGB to pay a brief visit to his brother and sister-in-law in Moscow, where the once-mainstream American couple now lives by choice behind Cold War enemy lines.
This is no simple family reunion, however. Simon’s sibling is the notorious US defector Frank Weeks, a one-time CIA man turned traitor in the eyes of his government who for the past decade has been operating in exile against his homeland.
Former State Department analyst Simon has been sent on assignment to Moscow, representing the literary company that will publish Frank’s sensational memoir, My Secret Life.
The rekindling of the relationship is something that only months earlier neither could have foreseen. Travel between the two countries is rare; the USSR is wary of admitting foreigners and the US, in turn, frowns on its citizens venturing anywhere near the Soviet bloc.
Simon has been welcomed at Frank’s instigation. The KGB, for which Frank is engaged in intelligence, sees the release of his tell-all manuscript as a public relations coup – the ultimate piece of propaganda confirming to the US public that one of its own has seen the error of his liberal Western ways and embraced Communism as the epitomy of government.
It’s a fraught situation, both politically and from a personal perspective. Simon has not forgotten Frank’s decision to vanish completely one night, taking with him a bank of knowledge amassed over years of casual brotherly lunches as the Weeks boys traded tales from their respective government offices in Washington, DC.
But maybe, just maybe, this move is Frank’s attempt to signal a change of heart – to reach out for help. Are his spying days over? Is he hinting that he’s ready to head home at last?