THE COIL & The Death of Georgi Markov
Ever wonder how spy novelists create their stories? Most of us base our tales on actual events, and then we turn to our imaginations. The notorious assassination of dissident writer Georgi Markov in 1978 is the foundation on which I built an entire modus operandi for a particularly lethal “janitor” — an assassin — in THE COIL.
A novelist and playwright, Markov had fled Bulgaria’s iron-fisted Communist regime and settled safely in London, where he worked for the BBC World Service. The versions of his murder vary, but my sources claim a stranger bumped into Markov near Waterloo Bridge, and the point of his American-made umbrella “accidentally” poked Markov in the thigh.
If Markov had not recalled the incident, his death would likely have been ruled natural, because the assassin had used a KGB “umbrella gun” to shoot him with a pellet that was so small that it was almost invisible. It released ricin, an extremely lethal poison made from castor-oil seeds. Ricin decomposes quickly and vanishes.
For THE COIL, I created an equally insidious assassin who uses a handsome, rejiggered walking cane to silently eliminate an EU commissioner in old Brussels and a rich banker on the Paradeplatz in Zurich. His poison of choice? A special derivative of Rauwolfia serpentina, which is related to common tranquilizers and depresses the central nervous system, mimicking natural cardiac arrest. The derivative, which can kill in seconds, is virtually undetectable.
You can meet this cunning assassin in Chapter One of THE COIL.
— Gayle Lynds