by Tim Powers
Review by John Berlyne
Avon Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0380976528
Date: Jan 9, 2001 List Price £17.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Declare is a big book - in size, in scope and in ambition. Andrew Hale is a university professor with a complicated history as a secret service agent - secret even to parts of the service itself. After years living in relative obscurity he finds himself recalled to a duty he was born into and never released from and once again becomes involved with "Operation Declare" - espionage with a distinctly supernatural twist. Along the way Hale encounters some rich characters not the least of which is Kim Philby, with whom both Hale's past and future seem irrevocably linked.
As in previous works Powers demonstrates his uncanny ability of wrapping his fiction around a tightly research historical framework. Many of the happenings mentioned in Declare - such as Philby being the sole survivor of a mortar attack on the car in which he and three fellow journalists were riding - are documented facts. Powers uses these as plot devices to divine a secret motivation to the actions of his characters and he pulls it off so well that he leaves us wondering if his version of events might just be the real one! Thus Declare is plotted as if it were a Swiss-made pocket watch - every cog and spring placed with such precision that if one were dislodged, the entire mechanism would break down. It doesn't! And Powers once again proves himself a master craftsman.