A complex but lively thriller that brings to mind the work of Len Deighton.



From the World War Two series , Vol. 3

Marquis’ (Blackbeard, 2018, etc.) third series entry centers on the lives and adventures of spies operating in concert with the Norwegian resistance during the Nazi occupation.

This latest novel concentrates on a colorful, real-life figure known as “Agent ZigZag”—British spy Eddie Chapman, a suave, charismatic figure who seems to have stepped out of the pages of a Graham Greene novel; he had many clandestine adventures spying on the Germans during World War II. The author enhances the tale of Agent ZigZag with stories, drawn from recently unearthed documents, detailing the lesser-known adventures of fellow resistance members Dagmar Lahlum and Annemarie Breien, showing the double agents’ complicated day-to-day dealings as Nazi oppression in their country steadily intensifies. Marquis has clearly done a prodigious amount of research, which results in a rather dense work. However, he matches it with a good sense of dramatic pacing that keeps the multifaceted plot bubbling along despite copious amounts of exposition in each chapter; the story is full of hairsbreadth escapes, double-crosses, and desperate bravery. (Marquis also elaborates on the historical record by having his spies all know one another, although the documentary evidence that they actually did is inconclusive.) The strong narrative momentum is enhanced by the author’s occasional penchant for arch melodrama: “And with that [Stephan Albert Heinrich] von Gröning fingered his own Iron Cross at his throat—and smiled the smile of a true German spymaster.” He ends the book with a formidably lengthy afterword that lays out the true history in precise detail, and the list of cited sources is equally generous. As a result, this is not only a skillful, rapid-fire historical spy thriller, but also a fine source on one of the least-known and most heroic chapters of the Second World War.

A complex but lively thriller that brings to mind the work of Len Deighton.

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-943593-23-1

Page Count: 418

Publisher: Mount Sopris Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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