Over twenty years ago William F. Buckley Jr. launched the dashing character of Blackford Oakes like a missile over the literary landscape. This newly minted CIA agentbrainy, bold, and complexbegan his career by saving the queen of England and quickly took his place in the pantheon of master spies drawn up by Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, and John LeCarre.
Against the backdrop of sinister Cold War intrigue, in this his eleventh outing, Oakes crosses pathsand swordswith Kim Philby, perhaps the highest-ranking in the parade of defectors to the Soviet Union. Oakes is now himself a master spy, working out of the agency and around agency rules. His romance with an able and worldly Soviet doctor provides consolation for the death of his beloved Sally. But after his return to Washington he receives dismaying news. It is inevitable that the great Soviet spy and the renowned American agent will meet againthis time, with deadly consequences.
Previous novels in the series include Saving the Queen; Stained Glass; Who's on First; Marco Polo, If You Can; The Story of Henri Tod; See You Later, Alligator; High Jinx; Mongoose, R.I.P.; Tucker's Last Stand; A Very Private Plot; and The Blackford Oakes Reader.
[Last Call] has a soul. And its elaborate canvas almost requires you to savor the overall achievements of the Oakes series, which, at its best, evokes John O'Hara in its precise sense of place amid simmering class hierarchies. For Buckley that means depicting a specialized elite and battle-ready corporate class: the international C.I.A. community of the 1950's to the 80's, with its disorders, fragile commitments, secret victories, self-righteousness and, occasionally, honor.