Suggested Book Group Discussion Questions
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1. A primary theme of A War of Deception is fathers and sons, namely fathers who died before their sons were born. Ivan Sanel is motivated by his desire to revenge for his father’s death, but part of Alexei Bukharin’s back story is a time when he hunted down and killed the Nazi officers responsible for his father’s death in the Battle of Stalingrad. Is there any difference between his desire for revenge and Sanel’s? If so, what are the differences? How are they similar? Does Bukharin’s revenge have any ethical aspects compared to Sanel’s?
2. A War of Deception shows how the past and the present can collide. What are several examples of that from the book? Did you find any parallels to events from your past you’d like to ignore?
3. The mother-child relationship is also a sub-theme in A War of Deception. What are the significant differences between Mai Fisher’s relationship with Natalia Bukharin, whom Mai thinks of as a daughter, and Valeriya Alekseevna’s relationship with her son? Also, though she’s only in a single scene, what stands out about McCartney Niels-Burke’s relationship with her son Sergei?
4. What other themes did you see in A War of Deception?
5. What five words can you use to describe the relationship of Alexei Bukharin and Mai Fisher? Do any of those words apply to Ted Holt’s relationship with his wife?
6. How would you describe Mai Fisher’s sense of justice? What about the means she uses to achieve her view of justice? Are they justified by the ends?
7. Was it necessary for Mai Fisher to confront Ted Holt at the end? Was it really for closure or for her ego–or did she prove a point?
8. What do you think was Ted Holt’s motivation for selling secrets–money or ideology? What about his ego? Why do you think someone betrays his or her country? Self-interest or a greater good? Are there ever any justifiable reasons?
9. Do you believe Mai Fisher is finally sincere about leaving covert operations behind? Or is it too much a part of her life?
10. What do you think happened with Kiril Vasiliev/Patrick McClune? He appears to take Mai’s offer of a new life. Do you think he’ll succeed? (BTW, you can find out in A War of Deception‘s companion novelette, A Face in the Crowd.)