Sasha Plotkin's Deceit by Vaughn Sherman (REVIEW & GIVEAWAY)

With battles of wits rather than brawn, and clashes of personalities rather than gadgets, Sasha Plotkin's Deceit suggests a kind of literary authenticity. In telling his tale, Vaughn Sherman forgoes the big-budget action sequences, the crazy gadgets, and the overt sexuality of his cinematic peers to focus instead on the human element of covert espionage.

Set during the height of the cold war, this is a story of betrayal and blackmail played out on both an international scale and an intimate one. On the surface, it's the story of a reluctant CIA operative working to orchestrate the physical defection of a KGB agent, one with whom he has an uncomfortable history. Beneath that surface, however, it's also the story of one women attempting to prevent the emotional defection of her husband, and another that of her son. Chris, the CIA operative upon whom the story turns is a man caught between conflicting loyalties and expectations, in a world where he can afford neither.

Although the pacing was a bit slower than I have become accustomed to, the story does move along well. There's a lot of historical information to absorb, but I have to give Sherman for credit doing so as part of the story, rather than just info-dumping on the reader. Even if you're not old enough to remember the cold war, he recreates that world and deftly immerses the reader within it. The flashbacks were a bit awkward, and I found they pulled me from the story, but were necessary to establish the 'present' tension and to create some real mystery.

In terms of characters, they're all well-developed on an intellectual scale, but they seemed to lack something on an emotional level. Maybe it was the coldly detached manner of storytelling - which is completely appropriate to the genre - but I didn't find I ever came to truly care about them. Chris and Sasha intrigued me, and I really wanted to know how their tale would resolve itself, but Lisa and her mother-in-law were almost a distraction, despite the fact that their relationships help to define Chris.

Having said all that, this was a story that kept me reading right to the end, and which had me sincerely intrigued as to how it would all work out. The espionage elements were fascinating, as were the political aspects, and I quite appreciated how the story came around to its resolution. If you're a fan of the genre, or have an interest in the time period, it's definitely a book worth checking out.



Vaughn Sherman’s career as a fisheries biologist was cut short when he was recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency. He served long assignments in the Far East and Europe before doing a short tour in Vietnam. After taking early retirement Vaughn joined in numerous community activities, most involving the governance of non-profit agencies and community colleges.

In addition to Sasha’s Plotkin’s Deceit, he has written the memoir of a northwest mariner titled An Uncommon Life (1988). He has also published three books dealing with the management of non-profits.

You can find Vaughn on the Web at or



Want your very own copy of Sasha Plotkin's Deceit? Just leave a comment below (be sure to include your email address) for Vaughn or myself. For bonus points, let us know your favourite cold war thriller!


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  1. Fantastic review and post. Thank you. Great job!!

  2. As the author I find this review captures my intent in writing "Sasha Plotkin's Deceit." The first two paragraphs of the review are excellent in this regard, and I commend the reviewer for recognizing what it's all about. Well done!


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