On the front line

In the latter years of the 1970s Adrian worked as European counsel to a Los Angeles law firm whose senior partner had been a US Airforce navigator in the Vietnam War and whose stories sowed the seeds of Adrian’s fascination with the US-Soviet proxy conflict.

From the mid-1980s through the 1990s he worked in Moscow, Budapest and Prague as an East-West trade lawyer. 

He experienced first-hand the failed Gorbachev coup (1991), the shelling of the “White House” (1993) and the anarchy of the Yeltsin years, when state assets were auctioned off at rock bottom prices to the new Russian “biznismeni”, who became the powerful oligarchs we know today. During this period he learnt Russian and liaised with numerous international intelligence agencies.

Famous writers

Over the years, Adrian’s business trips to the USSR, Russia, Hungary and the Czech Republic have taken him to Moscow, St Petersburg, Murmansk, Suzdal, Nizhniy Novgorod, Yalta, Budapest and Prague; cities steeped in rich and diverse cultures, histories and languages.

Most of these cities/regions are well-known for being the birth and/or work places of some of the world’s most famous writers: Fyodor Dostoyevsky in Moscow and St. Petersburg; Maxim Gorky gave his name to Nizhniy Novgorod in its former name of Gorky; Anton Chekhov wrote The Cherry Orchard and Three Sisters in Yalta; Arthur Koestler, who wrote Darkness at Noon, was born in Budapest and Franz Kafka wrote The Trial and The Metamorphosis in Prague. 

See the image of the first house Dostoyevsky bought, in Staraya Russia, Novgorod – (c) Dar Veter

A traveller's tale

When Adrian was location-scouting in Prague for the third book in the  trilogy, The Prague Protocol (to be published shortly), he spent his final afternoon in search of the building where Kafka worked as an office clerk. He returned to his hotel, without the answer. 

The concierge smiled and explained that the office was “right here”. The hotel was a 2002 conversion of the building which had been occupied by the Workers Accident Insurance Institute, where Kafka worked from 1908 to 1922.

Joseph K, the protagonist in The Trial, didn’t know why he was arrested. Adrian didn’t know where he was staying!

See the image of Kafka’s constantly rotating head built by David Černý, to indicate Kafka’s central theme of his books – frustration with bureaucracy.