But beyond the rather facile irony of a childish rhyme attaching to a deadly serious "game" of spying and counterspying
, there lies a whole intricately woven set of relationships between adults and children, between innocence and disillusionment, between loyalty and betrayal that gives the novel's title a deeper resonance" (King 65).
Late-Imperial Russia was awash in documentary forgeries, domestic spying, and counterspying
, with revolutionaries and the Czarist secret police often involved in complex duplicities.
A run-down of Gladney's former wives shows the relentless impingement of global concerns on his life as a husband and father: one "worked part-time as a spy," another "came from a distinguished old family that had a long tradition of spying and counterspying
and she was now married to a high-level jungle operative," and yet another, "before retiring to the ashram, was a foreign-currency analyst" (213).