Tag Archives: spy

Fine mystery, fine writing woven into politics surrounding fall of Communism

July 16, 2009

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“Victory Square,”

by Olen Steinhauer

Characters you find yourself cheering for get involved in the chaos of an Eastern European country as its Communist government falls.

That’s the storyline behind this well-written novel with flashes of — even a foundation in — real-life history.

There’s global politics, too, and international intrigue as people on a list start dying. Emil Brod, the chief of detectives just days away from retirement, and detective/spy Garva Noukas search for answers.

Olen Steinhauer makes you care about what happens to these two, and that’s key to any good novel. The plus is that “Victory Square” is as much literature as it is mystery.

What’s unique in a mystery, too, is that it offers an other-than-American point of view of the global politics of that time when the Soviet empire was crumbling, and seeing historical events through others’ eyes can bring clearer vision to readers.

Pick up this 355-page St. Martin’s Minotaur paperback for a great read. — bz
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Will the Pope survive terrorists shooting up St. Peter’s?

August 26, 2008

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“The Messenger,”
by Daniel Silva

Will Israeli super-spy Gabriel Allon be able to save the life of the Holy Father and get revenge on the Islamist extremist who planned attacking the Vatican? And what and who might be other targets for the terrorists?

The pope is a draw in this page-turner of a novel, but concerns about the pontiff and St. Peter’s really is the cookie part of the Oreo. The creamy filling is how the Israeli and American spy guys infiltrate a Saudi billionaire to get to the terrorist they’ve targeted.

Silva has a good thing going as he takes advantage of post-9/11 fears and anti-Arab sentiments rampant in the West.

He’s also milking his creation of the character Allon, who restores paintings to their original glory when he’s not putting away bad guys. He’s a hero we can’t help but support, and Silva is taking advantage of his protagonist’s popularity now with a fistful of novels.

All are good international thrillers, and “The Messenger” joins the rest as worth your time because it’s a good premise and a good plot.

But know there’s a definite slant to his work, and a message Silva is not shy about: There is evil out there, and the world needs to be more attuned to the threat posed by those who hate capitalism, Christianity and democracy. – bz

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Have Yourself a Bloody Little Christmas

July 17, 2008

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“The Spy Who Came for Christmas,”
by David Morrell

Think Rambo having a Christmas Eve change of heart — well, in part at least.

Think a geopolitical way to look at the biblical story of Christ’s birth.

Think terrorism on a snowy stage on the holiest night of the year.

“The Spy Who Came for Christmas” is all of the above. When a planted American spy decides he can’t go along with the latest assignment the Russian Mafia has called on him to carry out — to kidnap a baby, a baby that’s suppose to be a symbol of world peace — the action goes at a pretty crisp pace, for the most part.

There’s Arab bad guys and spousal abuse and alcoholism and Soviet Communism and religion all mixed together in a story that teeter-totters between Christian principles and graphic violence. When this is made into a film — maybe a made-for-TV one at least — there will be blood all over the screen.

The only slow part is when the good-guy spy tells a way-out version of the Journey of the Magi; they become spies for Persia intent of causing disruption of Herod’s rule. Interesting — but gosh does it take a long time to tell.

Calling “The Spy Who Came for Christmas” a page-turner would be a bit of a stretch, and it’s an admittedly okay yarn. But Morrell’s name and Christmas in the title is sure to be a winner in the marketplace. — bz

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