I am a rabid fan of spy novels and I don't write many reviews. However, I have to say, this book was so terrible that I felt I must warn other readers. When I bought the book I expected a lot given its high ratings. However, it disappointed on a number of accounts. First of all, half the book is blustery diatribe about the former Soviet Union and the nature of the Russian people. A little of this would be OK to add context to the story, but it is overwhelming and completely bogs down the plot. Second of all, the characters are quixotic and often make irrational decisions which are not consistent with either their previous behavior or their personalities. Lisa Rhodes in particular is probably one of the worst drawn female protagonists I have read. There were several times while listening when I said out loud, "Oh shut up you idiot!". The narrator too is sub-par. I have listened to many books narrated by Scott Brick. The guy has only one tone of voice and he often adds sarcastic inflections at inappropriate points. Give me George Guidall over him any day. Finally, the grand finale, a great rescue attempt, is ridiculous strategically. I don't want to spoil it for you poor souls who shoulder through the 24 hours of listening time, but lets just say that if you think about it for more than a minute, you realize that neither the US military nor the CIA would ever plan or enact such a hair-brained scheme. Honestly, I can't believe I wasted a whole day of my life listening to this.
I love DeMille's books and this is another winner. The Charm School starts out a little slow but once it gets going, it cannot be put down. A great read that I would highly recommend.
Since this book appears to be a pre 9/11, cold war type book, I thought it would come across as dated. It was excellent.
DeMille has a knack for showing us the subtleties of a different ways people live and survive. This book showed Soviet cold war living in the same way Up Country showed the living in Viet Nam 20 years after America pulled out.
On top of that is an incredible story,
I am not sure if it was a man reading female dialog, but the main female character seemed very stupid and listening to her really got on my nerves. If you can tune her out, the book would be about 3 and 1/2 stars. If it wasn't for the very dark subject matter and charaters, I would have given this 4 stars. If you like spy stories and don't mind depressing subject matter, I think you will like this book. I don't usually read spy genre, but really enjoyed that aspect of this book.
I love Nelson DeMille, but if you're looking for the amazing excitement of "The Lion's Game" or the humor of "The Gold Coast" don't purchase this book. It is long and boring and nothing ever happens. The title and synopsis are misleading. I did finish it though, if that means anything.
Tedious, but the skill of the author and the talent of the narrator keeps one hanging in there. Wouldn't read it or listen to it again and would only recommend it to someone who is seriously interested in a painstaking take on US/Russian history. Found it difficult not to lose patience with the female lead.
The story was okay. I can't tell whether it was the written words or the narration that was worse...probably the narration. I've enjoyed other DeMille books.