By Lesego Mkhize 

We are introduced to Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian agent who fled from Moscow to London, in order to escape the country’s security service and Vladimir Putin’s feared wrath at that time.

In the opening paragraph Will begins with what is known as the “establishing shot” in photography. Here the scene is set, the audience is lured back into a vortex of time and can perhaps imagine themselves in London during that cold season. Will’s writing is delicately detailed and constructed in such a way that the reader could possibly confuse Will, with Alexander.

The author’s style of writing begins with a climax. He does this by using diction that will evoke the reader’s attention (e.g. violently vomiting). This is the authors attempt at preparing the reader for the catastrophic events that will unfold.

Throughout the article we know Alexandra to be a Russian agent who found himself sipping on something much stronger than tea.

We feel almost instant pity towards Alexander and the pain he is faced with but shortly after his death, the veil is lifted and we are exposed to the dark side of a man we felt so much empathy toward in the beginning of the article.


The author cleverly adds a personified nuance to each character we are introduced to. For example; even in his last days, Alexandra still wears his armor of steel withered and all we see how vengeful he is even at his death bed.

“The poison had produced a death so painful that he chewed through his own lips.”

Once again there is a continuation in the use of over dramatic and extremely descriptive diction, to convey to the reader the urgency of radioactive poising and its detrimental effects during the Russian war. Perhaps this is not the only point the author wishes to bring across, maybe in using such raw diction the author is trying to show how the agents more often than not caused their own deaths.

It is here that the blame is shifted­­- we see the widow of Alexandra, Marina as an innocent victim who was unknowingly buried into a situation beyond her own comprehension.

As the article begins to gradually shape itself out we begin to slowly understand how poison comes in more form than one and that a dead man’s story is just that- dead.