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The Innocent | [Ian McEwan]

The Innocent

War-weary Berlin has much to offer Leonard Markham, a young, naive postal engineer: first the arts of sophisticated intrigue, then the delights of sexual pleasure. But Leonard's new knowledge carries a heavy price, dragging him and the listener into a new type of story that is exhaustively suspenseful and utterly irresistible.
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Publisher's Summary

War-weary Berlin has much to offer Leonard Markham, a young, naive postal engineer: first the arts of sophisticated intrigue, then the delights of sexual pleasure. But Leonard's new knowledge carries a heavy price, dragging him and the listener into a new type of story that is exhaustively suspenseful and utterly irresistible.

Listen to an interview with Ian McEwan on Charlie Rose.

©1990 Ian McEwan; (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

"McEwan's name will be on everyone's lips with his startling new novel, an impeccably constructed psychological thriller set in Berlin during the Cold War....McEwan's neat, tensile prose raises this book to the highest level of the genre." (Publishers Weekly)
"A tour de force of horror and philosophical suspense." (The New York Times)
"So exhaustively suspenseful....It should be devoured at one sitting." (Newsweek)
"McEwan...a breathtaking master...has written a blueprint for the future of the genre." (Time)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (79 )
5 star
 (18)
4 star
 (34)
3 star
 (17)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (4)
Overall
3.7 (30 )
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3 star
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Story
3.9 (31 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Geoffrey Ancaster, ON, Canada 08-19-04
    Geoffrey Ancaster, ON, Canada 08-19-04 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
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    16
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    "A little gem"

    I read it entirely by accident and could not put it down . Well written, good character developement and portrayed spying from a down to earth perspective and honesty. There are no heroes, we see people with all their faults and idiosyncracies, stumbling through life. A work of fiction but set around an event that really occured.
    I knew Berlin in the cold war era and the book and characters made me have a certain nostalgia for a time which is now gone forever( thank God ) and the players of the game, US, Brits and Germans and of course the Russian bear . I reccomend it.
    Geoff Holdway MD Ancaster ON Canada

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth Mantua, NJ, USA 05-10-05
    Kenneth Mantua, NJ, USA 05-10-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
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    10
    4
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    "A Lifelike Knot of Possibilities"

    At first I thought this was going to be "The Spy Who Fell Into the Cold War." The setting was right; the characters were available, but then, like life, it veered into an unexpected alley. So I thought it was going to be about romance and trust and danger. But the danger wasn't from the embattled governments or other outside influences in the divided city or the divided society; the danger was from inside the relationship, from inside the individuals. Then, like life, the story veered again, coping with danger, and danger was like a voracious beast intent on devouring the trust and the romance. Only the ending of the novel doesn't ring true for me, the looking back, the untying, the rekindling; these are the postscripts to a Hollywood movie, the way we'd like things to be, under control and logical, but not very lifelike.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mary j aboughadareh Reston, VA USA 11-02-08
    mary j aboughadareh Reston, VA USA 11-02-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    185
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    343
    89
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    Overall
    "Extremely good just up until the end."

    I just loved this book and the characters. The reader was excellent. High adventure and intrigue, history...everything about it was perfect until the end which turned out was just lobbed off. You never find out what happens to everyone, it just ends. I personally really hate that and so I gave it 4 stars. It would have been a 5+ if not for the "no ending" ending.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Jones Sebring, FL 05-23-14
    S. Jones Sebring, FL 05-23-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    104
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    67
    22
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    Story
    "Been There, Done That"

    This romance novel for men is unoriginal and lacking suspense. Perhaps it's a testament to our jaded times that the graphic sex is tedious, the espionage lacks suspense, and the gruesome murder fails to shock or surprise. The unrealistic, tidy ending is a joke. The author seems to want to be Graham Greene but ends up being Barbara Cartland. I like the narrator, which is why I stuck with it until the end.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela Sonoma, CA, United States 08-10-04
    Pamela Sonoma, CA, United States 08-10-04 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    188
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    126
    45
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    5
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    "BIG YAWN. Slow story, dense main character"

    I have never encountered such a dense, naive main character until I read this book. The story is slow to develop, and there is nothing about any of the characters that make me give a hoot what happens to them. As a matter of fact, Leonard, the main character, is thick-headed and such an idiot that I want to see him caught! Even for those readers who like US vs. Soviet or Allies vs. Axis spy stories, this is just too unbelievable a yarn to hold one's attention.

    4 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather San Francisco, CA, USA 02-20-09
    Heather San Francisco, CA, USA 02-20-09 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    364
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    "long, boring and gruesome"

    this story took forever to go someplace and when it got there it was beyond horrific. i tried not listening to the extremely gory parts, trying to get through it. but eventually gave up. i just didn't care enough to go on with it.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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