A dying man recounts the story of the most amazing person he has ever met, a brilliant, Soviet linguist whom he calls Youriko. It is a tale of love, daring-do, spies and danger set in Japan, Germany, Turkey, the USA, Canada and the UK, but mostly in the Soviet Union of the Seventies.
Two girls, born thousands of miles apart in Kazakhstan and Japan just after World War II, meet and are like peas in a pod. They also get on like sisters and keep n touch for the rest of their lives.
However, one wants to help her battle-scarred country and the other wants to leave hers for the West. They dream up a daring, dangerous plan to achieve both goals, which Andropov, the chief of the Soviet KGB, is told about. He dubs it Operation Youriko and it is set in motion, but does it have even the remotest chance of success?
Andropov’s Cuckoo is based on a ‘true story’ related to the author by one of the protagonists.
The story starts with William, an octogenarian widower, who misses his wife terribly, in a sanctuary in southern Spain. He is waiting to die and is looking forward to it in order to be reunited with his wife Youriko. He does not have long, but decides that his brave wife`s story should be told, although she would not allow it when she was alive.
First we meet a Japanese family that was caught up in the blast at Hiroshima, and then we meet their daughter, Youriko, who has been radicalised against the American occupying forces.
Next we meet a Soviet, Kazakhstani family, who were also involved in the war. The wife is a government agent who stirs the workers in her area to produce more, and we meet her daughter.
Through the Japanese Communist Party visits to the area, the Russian and the Japanese families meet and get on. The girls especially. In fact, they actually look alike too.
The girls hatch a plan to switch lives, though the Japanese girl sees no future in the USSR. She wants to go to America.
The switch is made, and The Russian girl, now known as Youriko takes a job in the Japanese Foreign Office. Then she moves to the Diplomatic Corps, all the while spying for her boss Andropov, the head of the KGB.
She falls from grace when she becomes disillusioned with her work and tries to escape to see her double, who is now in Canada. She is captured and held in the dreaded Lubyanka prison, before she is given a show trial and sent to a camp.
When she gets out, Andropov takes pity on her and sets her up as the boss of a `honey trap` spy ring. While doing this job, she falls in love with a British exchange student, and spends the rest of the book fleeing the country on horseback through the Caucasus into Turkey, where she hands herself over to the British Embassy.
After a thorough debriefing, she is allowed to remain in the UK, so she goes to surprise the love of her life during a class.
Youriko and William live a long life together in Andalusia, until she dies.
The last chapter of the book sees him dying and calling his wife`s name as she stands before him welcoming him back into her arms.
The doctor is the one who finds the manuscript and gets it published.