Related as a collection of dossier notes written by the five characters, the novel reveals a complicated web in which each spins his or own deception: each is a spider, and each is a spy.
©1973 Charles McCarry; (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks
At last! And I hope it is the first of the many books by this literate espionage novelist we will be able to hear. In this, his first novel, McCarry chose a difficult technique - multiple points of view on the same subject - and carried it off beautifully.
The use of a fine cast of multiple readers makes the audio performance of this book even more powerful than the print version I first read many years ago.
Set in the Cold War, the story is, in turn, antic and poignant as the attention of half a dozen security agencies focuses on Thaddeus Miernik. Is he a hapless stooge or a clever spymaster, an unlovely martyr to misfortune or a crafty mastermind?
A CIA agent who worked undercover in his youth, McCarry brings the ring of authenticity to his novels - and the missteps, mistakes and misunderstandings that shape covert work form the heart of his tales.
There is plenty of action in this unlikely journey of friends and spies across the African desert, but the mysteries take shape in the mind games that play out in the interaction of the characters and the off-screen forces that influence, examine and direct their actions.
This book introduces McCarry's virtuous and cerebral American spy Paul Christopher and launches a series of intriguing novels that will span decades - both in the writing of them and the context of events that play out through the cycle of this remarkable author's work.
McCarry has been compared favorably to the best of Greene and LeCarre, and his talent shows even in this first novel.
Listen to it, enjoy it, and join me in waiting anxiously for the Audible versions of McCarry's "The Better Angels," "The Tears of Autumn," and the latest - "The Old Boys."
Yes, this is sort of a book that the end doesn’t matter, it’s the journey (no pun intended) that counts.
Definitely Miernik, his add demeanor had kind of…. a je ne sais quoi about him.
I loved this 4 narrators combination, it felt like a radio performance of years gone by.
Yes, definitely yes.
It is the first time I have listened to book in a journal style comprised of reports & debriefings. I was expecting it to be a very long 10 hours.To my surprise, I couldn’t put it down, at times I sat in the car long after my arrival to hear a few more minutes of this fascinating account of those add friends in their strange journey. McCarry weaves this espionage plot in an ingenious way; he has this “picturesque” way to describe the players and events. The narrators, 4 in total, did an excellent job “acting” the parts of each of the characters and reading the dossier in a dry non involved manner.
I would strongly recommend listening to this book
Charles McCarry is the great American spy novelist. There are few guns and the violence is rare enough to be visceral. The protagonist, Paul Christopher, walks in the gray between doubt and faith. The story is a drive along the fault line of Cold War antagonism, but it is made across a continent by a motley crew in a Cadillac, and has the feel of an Ealing Studios production.
Still. It holds, not as an artifact but as the first steps of an American master.
The performance is pitch perfect: strong, smart, weary and passionate.
Well written and very well read. It captures both the naivite and the paranoia of the era quite well. Is he or isn't he a spy/enemy agent? Story told through "official" documents and debriefings is an excellent vehicle for a taut plot. Different from the usual cold-war spy thriller and well worth the listen.
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