Craig Thomas wrote a number of novels in the 1980s and 1990s that I devoured eagerly at the time. He is best known, of course, for "Firefox" which eventually got turned into a Clint Eastwood movie. He wrote another novel or two with the same main character (Mitchell Gant) but most of his output followed the adventures of two employes of the British SIS, Kenneth Aubrey, a seemingly doddery but supposedly efficient senior manager and Patrick Hyde, a resourceful but flawed Australian (aren't they all) spy. "The Last Raven" is set against the backdrop of the breakup of the Soviet Union and concerns various hard line elements conspiring with the CIA to shoot down a Russian plane carrying a key member of the Politburo and thus nudge the Soviet government away from reform and back onto a more conservative platform. Of all of Thomas' novels, this is the one that should have stood the test of time the best given that it is set at such a pivotal period in world history. Unfortunately, it doesn't do so. The characters of both Hyde and Aubrey come across as bumbling and Hyde's last minute escapes from desperate situations become less and less believable as the book goes on. For all that, it was pleasant to re-read, a bit like having some distant relatives visit where you are pleased to see them and just as pleased to see them go.
Now that I've re-read this one, I've put "The Bear's Tears" onto my reading list. I remember this as being my favourite Thomas book and I don't want to have "The Last Raven" as my last memory of him (in reasearching this review, I discovered that he died earlier this year). Look out for my review of that book sometime next year.
And of course, if all else fails, I now have two copies of the book and only really need one!