In the first two books of his acclaimed Christopher Marlowe Cobb series, The Hot Country and The Star of Istanbul, Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler captured the hearts of historical crime fiction fans with the artfulness of his World War I settings and his charismatic leading man, a Chicago journalist recruited by American intelligence.
In The Empire of Night, it is 1915, and President Woodrow Wilson is still assessing the war's threat to the United States. After proving himself during the Lusitania mission, Kit is now a full-blown spy, working undercover in a castle on the Kentish coast owned by a suspected British government mole named Sir Albert Stockman. And Kit is again thrown together with a female spy - his own mother, the beautiful and mercurial Isabel Cobb, who also happens to be a world-famous stage actress. Starring in a touring production of Hamlet, Isabel's offstage role is to keep tabs on the supposed mole, an ardent fan of hers, while Kit tries to figure out Stockman's secret agenda. Following his mother and her escort from the relative safety of Britain into the lion's den of Berlin, Kit must remain in character, even under the very nose of the Kaiser.
©2014 Robert Olen Butler. Recorded by arrangement with John Hawkins and Associates, Inc. (P)2014 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books
Although this was an interesting exploration into the WWI bombings of London, the story required a little too much suspension of disbelief. I finished the book, and was glad that I did. The main character is an American spy working on behalf of the Brits. He is investigating a Member of Parliament who is suspected of working for the Germans. Without giving anything away, he is a flawless spy. No one ever guesses that he may not be who he claims to be as he plays numerous different roles throughout the book. And he never makes a mistake. Everything goes as planned, which is where the disbelief comes in. I know a lot of Germans, and none is as dumb as depicted in this book. The narrator's voice caused me problems initially, too. I perceived an underlying lilt of sarcasm that made me feel like I was listening to "Naked Gun 2.5" at first. However, I got over that after a few chapters.
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