The prose was a bit turgid . . . . but it was a pretty good thriller.
I like anything about Istanbul, and the protagonist was put in an interesting and difficult situation.
The reader adopted some very strange pronunciations for for the names: Leon was "Lay-OWN" and Alexei was "Alex-AY". It bugged me constantly. I didn't mind that he didn't try to fake women's voices. Overall the narration was fine and didn't particularly add or detract except for the weird names.
No, it was enough.
Joseph Kanon can write, that's for sure, and Jefferson Mays is a good narrator. Nonetheless, listening to this book was a deeply ambivalent experience for me. For one, WWII was well over sixty years ago. Two, Schindler's List was such an astounding work of art that it is in a class by itself. I know one can't compare an audiobook to a movie, but the story of helping the traumatized Jews leave Germany and Poland has been covered many times. The setting of this book, Istanbul, is an interesting city to read about, and the characters are well drawn. However, the book is weighed down by millions of details, and it really does get boring. The love interest between Leon Bauer and Kay Bishop is one place at which the book comes alive. This furtive relationship is a sidebar, though. The plot centers on Leon's attempt to get a Romanian monster, a true butcher of Jews, out of Istanbul and into the West. It is possible to respect and admire this book without actually enjoying it. Kanon does a great job of weaving historical truth with fiction, but, for my money, Martin Cruz Smith is such a master of this genre that no one can touch him. The atmosphere of the book is quaint and dated. I know that it does not take place in the present, but I just did not feel lured into it. The writing is turgid and distanced. This one is only for true WWII history buffs. Another movie which tells a closely related story (I know I'm straying here) and which few people have seen, is Charlotte Grey. Cate Blanchett is the finest actor of our generation, in my opinion, and the movie tells the story in a gripping, deeply involving way which moves you to a welter of emotions. I would see it five or six times (and I have) before listening to this book.
Warning: there is a description of a Holocaust atrocity in this book. Personally I tend to avoid books with details on atrocities. If you can get past that the book is strong on atmosphere replicating in print and in Istanbul the ambiance of the movie Casablanca. It’s post WWII and spy vs. spy is undergoing changing allegiances. Leone, an occasional hired hand of the US consulate conducts clandestine operations. He is asked to pick up and deliver freight.” The freight is a Nazi with information of interest to the US. The intrigue begins and gets complicated but easy to follow. The writing style is a few notches below literary and is at times melodramatic. Occasionally it skirts the edge of pulp fiction before scampering back to first rate descriptions of Istanbul. The ending is a bit drawn out with a surprise that many readers will surmise prior to its revelation. All in all the book is not a bad rendering of the first freeze of the cold war in a colorful setting.
Well crafted story in an unusual setting, with plenty of twists and turns. I could see Istanbul in my mind's eye, and it made me want to visit there.
I listen to audiobooks mainly while commuting 90 minutes a day and when walking. Sometimes when knitting.
I have read and listened to several of Joseph Kanon's books and they have all been excellent. This one is different than the usual WWII spy thriller but fascinating none the less. Set in Istanbul just after WWII has ended and full of interesting characters and intrigue. Highly recommended!
too hard too follow in an audio book, maybe it would've been better as a read
It was last month's book club selection, or I wouldn't have finished it.
Narrators various voices and accents. An atmosphere of postwar Turkey.
My favorite was Los Alamos, less favorite was The Good German. This book was perhaps the second best, although it was often painstakingly slow and drawn out.
His characterizations made the story come alive. I might not have finished the book if I was reading it.
Love having someone read me a story. Fires in the hearth, rain on the roof, sunny days and surf. Good friends, good food and J S Bach.
The story shaped up to being a good work for two thirds of the book.
The last quarter to third did not 'read' like the same author.
While we humans may not be exactly rational and can make some very odd decisions,it was more than a man very carefully fleshed out, doing something odd. The style changed.
Maybe editorial interference, "We need more Action." sort of thing or Kanon just wanting a certain kind of ending to this novel. For me it failed.
If it was a hard copy I doubt I would keep in my shelves.
The general subject and location was interesting for me. I did like Mays reading of the story. Other than that this was a disappointing listen.
As there is some excellent fiction available through Audible. I would suggest your credit or dollars could be better used.
Not as good as Alan Furst, Martin Cruz Smith, or Eric Ambler. The story drags to a point that I switched to something else
You'd think with a setting such as Istanbul, this would be an exciting book. Not. I kept making myself listen, but it just didn't captivate me. Sorry.