Having a gutsy woman as the pivotal figure, rather than Firefly’s fugitive child prodigy, makes White Hot Silence slightly less fresh. But in every other respect the sequel is fully the equal of the earlier book, particularly in its assured orchestration of a sizeable cast and a complicated, country-hopping plot. Current political concerns are once again adroitly addressed: the migrant crisis was central in Firefly, and here Anastasia’s abduction and Denis’s troubles turn out to be linked to the populist surge across Europe in reaction to the influx of refugees.
Samson gets on Anastasia’s trail but quickly realises he is still in love with her. How then will he return her to Hisami? Porter takes us on a rollercoaster ride through Italy, the container ship where Anastasia is being held; Russia, New York and Estonia. The climax of the book, on the bridge at Narva, the border between Russia and Estonia is nail-biting, with a poignant, Casablanca-style twist at the end. Anastasia is no passive victim, but also drives the story forward. Thriller writing at its best.