A novel based on a true story. And the pertinent music is Fred and Ginger’s ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’
Description: A dark and riveting thriller that reimagines the life and mission of the Spanish nationalist enlisted to murder Leon Trotsky: Based on a true chapter of world history and ten years of research, here is the story of the real-life reluctant soldier and killer, Ramón Mercader—the obedient assassin
Ramón Mercader was plucked from the front of the Spanish Civil War by the Soviets and conscripted to murder the great intellectual Leon Trotsky, a leader of the Bolshevik Revolution who was exiled in the 1920s for opposing Joseph Stalin.
As Ramón is trained for the task and assumes a new identity, he lives a lush life in Paris, befriending Frida Kahlo and other artists of the time. He falls in love with a left-leaning Jewish woman whom he is ordered to seduce as a means of getting at Trotsky.
From Barcelona to Paris and New York to Mexico City, the group controlling Ramón—including Ramón’s mother and her lover—guides the assassin on the inevitable resolution of his grim task as he must penetrate Trotsky’s compound.
Dedication: For Cezar Moreira Sanchez
Opening: The men could see the car coming on the road for a long time. It would appear on a rise, then disappear, a black sedan moving through the white limestone hills.
Ramón listens to the details of his brother Pablo’s death from the lips of his mother, Caridad; they stand in the freezing cold countryside smoking cigarettes and contemplating what will happen if Franco’s side wins through. They blame Trotsky for splitting the left, and mum announces she has a job for her son, orders straight from Stalin.
“Did you ever run into David Siqueiros in Spain?”
“The Mexican painter?”
“Yes, that’s him.”
From wiki: The Fourth International (FI), founded in 1938, is the communist international organisation consisting of followers of Leon Trotsky (Trotskyists), with the declared dedicated goal of helping the working class bring about socialism. Historically, the Fourth International was established in France in 1938.
From wiki: On July 13, 1938, Rudolf Klement was kidnapped in Paris and murdered by the Stalinist GPU, the secret police of the USSR. At the time of his kidnapping and murder, Klement was the secretary-designate of the Fourth International. He had been organizing its founding conference. His headless corpse was found later in the river Seine.
Page 76: “Have you heard that new song?”
Page 157: “You don’t mind that I danced with her.”
Man, Controller of the Universe, Rivera
Home of León Trotsky in Coyoacán in Mexico Distrito Federal, now a Museum
Excellent read; great research, however I found it hard to picture Mercader from these pages, he was something slightly short of a fully realised human being.