For me, one of the delights associated with rereading TSS has been renewing an acquaintance with Yuri Gorsky, upravdom of the apartment house in Vojtovica ulica where Schrenk lived before being captured. Hall seems to have had a knack for portraying Russians, drawing some of his most fascinating characters from, as Q puts it, "the infinitely varied strata of Moscow society."
I like Gorsky for his unflappable calm and for his sense of balance as he confronts some very upsetting situations. The way he deals with Q at their first meeting is just great: "I was looking for signs everywhere, signs of something wrong, of a hundred things wrong. He understood this, and I could feel his understanding as we waited the time out, unsure of each other." [5:12]
Gorsky also knows how to handle the flaky Natalya, "beside herself" when Schrenk is captured. He gives Q "the best room," best being measured here in terms of how fast you can get out to the fire escape. He knows enough to have soaped the window frame, and without being told picks up immediately on Q's worry that Schrenk might've been captured near the apartment instead of some distance from it. He knows his environment and gives Q tips on dealing with it: "'Don't worry,' he said in his low voice, 'about the little dezhurnaya in the hallway. She has a grandson in the labor camps. But give her money if you want to. Not too much.'" [5:16] Nor is Gorsky too engrossed in serious tasks not to indulge himself in a moment of macabre humor: "'I won't write your name in the residence record, of course. We shall agree, if it is ever necessary, that I forgot.' He gave a faint smile. 'Though it would be too late for excuses, by then.'"
It is most unfortunate that Gorsky is finally captured by the KGB, blown by Schrenk because he thought Q might still be in the safe house. Equally unfortunate, however, is Q's rather tawdry attempt to salvage his tattered professionalism by pretending that, if he has the chance again, he'll kill Schrenk as ordered, and this time he'll "do it for Gorsky." To work up a false outrage to compensate for one's own lack of resolve is self-deception of the highest order. Yuri Gorsky deserves better than that.