The Kingfisher Secret – Roman-á-clef By Anonymous (2018)

The Kingfisher Secret by Anonymous

Grace Elliott is a journalist with a low-end magazine in Canada and is feeling mighty unfulfilled. She yearns for the break that will give her the recognition and acceptance that has long been her dream. During her employment, Grace has managed to cultivate a working relationship with Elena Craig, the Czech ex-wife of Anthony Craig, a presidential candidate in the upcoming US election. Note: this review contains spoilers (it’s a review, what did you expect?!)

Elena is the front person for an agony column in the magazine and Grace is her ghost-writer. It’s all OK from Grace’s point of view as Elena is a charming and intriguing person who still retains a high degree of influence over her ex. But when a former porn star contracts Grace with a view to telling her story, one that involves Anthony Craig, the ambitious journalist feels that her much-longed-for opportunity has arrived. She’s wrong.

Grace’s editor at the magazine, Steadman Coe, quashes her story and she comes to suspect that he’s getting pressure from the owners of the publication. Grace is devastated but nonetheless quickly dispatched to Prague to meet Elena in preparation for further episodes of their column. So we have a porn star claiming to have shagged Anthony Craig, then his ex-wife (who is still closely in touch with him) calls Grace for a meet overseas; Grace must be adding two and two and getting four. Or perhaps not, which would explain why she has never made it from a second-rate magazine.

However, the meeting is in the Czech Republic and Grace has never been, so she’s somewhat distracted. It’s also there, fortuitously, that she finally hits by accident upon her biggest chance yet, and it all rotates around Elena and who she used to be and now is. As Grace’s story unfolds in 2016, we are also taken back to the former state of Czechoslovakia in 1968 as Elena Klimentová tries and fails to be a world-renowned gymnast.

After her last athletic flop, the beautiful Elena is approached by both Czech and Russian security services and recruited as one of their agents to be inserted into fashionable western society. Female agents engaged in this capacity are known as swallows and the males are ravens. They try to work their way as high up the social and political ladders as possible using their beauty, wit and charm, all with the aim of providing influence for the KGB. Elena’s code-name is Kingfisher.

As Grace begins to dig into Elena’s past, she finds that she has opened a very ugly and dangerous can of worms. Of course, she has also kicked a hornet’s nest and perhaps it should be a case of letting sleeping dogs lie. But which cliche will kill her? Scooby Doo knows but he ain’t tellin’. Grace pokes and probes and is pursued. The people she speaks to all seem to end up dead along the way and it all gets a bit much for our wannabe intrepid reporter.

Meanwhile, from the sixties and into the seventies, we follow the trail of the delectable Miss Klimentová as she weaves her way through life as a successful model, slowly making her way into the path of Anthony Craig, a man identified as having potential useful to the KGB. As the Soviet Union falls, the KGB simply morphs into the SVR and Elena finds no reprieve. Anthony Craig becomes caught up in the Russian web of intrigue and is snared. Sweet.

Back in 2016, Grace, on the other hand, is just holding her own and living by her wits. She survives long enough to make her way back to the USA and then Canada where Elena’s people offer her the kind of deal she can’t refuse. And so it is that the true story of Elena Craig, her ex-husband Anthony, and his involvement with, and manipulations by, the Russian secret service is buried.

The Kingfisher Secret is slow to get going. But once the reader realizes that the novel is purportedly based on actual events, it becomes fun. If you haven’t already guessed who the story refers to, then Rebel Voice must ask where you have been hibernating for the past three years. This story could not be more obviously directed at Ivana Trump and her ex-hubby, Donald, if it was illustrated with pictures of his bloated orange person.

Ivana Trump (Zelnickova) is from the former Czechoslovakia. She was a cross-country skier but didn’t make the Olympic team even though reports claimed she did. Elena Craig didn’t make the Olympic gymnastic team yet claimed she did; part of her cover. Ivana was a model and when she wed Donald became head of design for his hotels. Elena was also a model, becoming head of design for Anthony’s car manufacturing company. Anthony Craig is filmed having sex with Russian prostitutes in Moscow when he is still married to Elena, fathering a child to one. This daughter later turns up accompanying the president of Russia to the Sochi Winter Olympics. Trump is alleged by some to have done the same.

This novel is an intimated exposé of the scandal that still afflicts Trump, whereby he is being accused of being under the influence, if not total control, of Russian intelligence. Although names, locations and certain other details have been adjusted or changed entirely, this book is so blatant in its allusions as to make Rebel Voice wonder how exactly they got away with it. The name of the author has been withheld which serves only to heighten expectation and increase credibility; a nice touch if perhaps a tad cynical. The rear jacket states, “The author is a respected writer and former journalist. His identity is being kept secret in order to protect the source of the ideas that inspired this novel”. Now ain’t that as suggestive and sophistic a disclaimer as you’ll ever encounter?

Perhaps there is truth to the story of The Kingfisher Secret. Or perhaps it’s just a very clever ploy designed to piggy-back upon the well-publicized scandals that plague Trump. Does he have legal recourse? Does Ivana? Difficult to say, and lawyers, barristers and solicitors will be better able to answer that. Did Trump write or authorize this book? Did Ivana? An example of taking control of the opposition? Nothing would surprize Rebel Voice, unless it emerged that George ‘Dubya’ Bush was the actual author. This site believes that Dubya hasn’t moved beyond looking at pretty pictures.

So is The Kingfisher Secret worth reading? Hmmm… that’s a tough one. It’s reasonably well written, although the prose is basic and tired in places. The story-line is interesting, but only if you allow that it’s based upon the lives of Ivana and Donald Trump. On the other hand, it provides no concrete evidence of any wrongdoing on their part. It is only a novel after all. Rumour and innuendo. Speculation. Hearsay. It could also be regarded as an incredibly devious piece of opportunism designed to manipulate readers into spending their hard-earned cash.

For the latter reason, Rebel Voice recommends that this book be read but not bought. Grab a copy from the public library and advise others to do the same. Don’t facilitate such sneaky schemes and perhaps they will stop. Until the author is made known, we will not know how relevant this story is and therefore should not allow ourselves to be used in this way. Read it and wonder, but give Anonymous little in the way of remuneration for creating doubts in such an underhanded way.

Sult scale rating: 6 out of 10. If taken as a representation of the lives of Ivana and Donald Trump, then this book has some merit. But, ultimately, the author has chosen to hide their identity. Therefore, this novel is a fairly cowardly way to make a buck. What an unfortunate occurrence within the world of literature.

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