When historian Fluke Kelso learns of the existence of a secret notebook belonging to Josef Stalin he is determined to track it down, whatever the consequences. From the violent political intrigue and decadence of modern Moscow he heads north - to the vast forests surrounding the White Sea port of Archangel, and a terrifying encounter with Russia's unburied past.
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I've read/listened to a number of Robert Harris books. I loved the Cicero trilogy: that was what bought me to this author. This was a disappointment.
No. Interesting premiss but it became ungrounded and unbelievable and ended up as a cliche-ridden caper in the snow.
With Trump in the US and a slide towards the right in Europe, the issue of the attraction of psychopathic dictators seems even more pertinent than it was when Archangel was written. The chases, the shoot-outs, the double crosses and the Son-of-Stalin-supervillain didn't treat the subject matter with the gravitas it deserved. The reality of Trump and Putin is worse than the spectre Archangel conjures.
David Rintoul has done quite a good job on other Harris outings. No one can touch Bill Wallis, but he is no longer available.
I am usually an admirer of Michael Kitchen but his staccato delivery and absolute determination to find unusual stresses and avoid anything approaching a 'lush' reading left me alienated and vaguely irritated throughout. His style distracted from the content. I was regularly left wondering why he'd chosen to stress certain words and missed chunks of the story.
On top of that, the thing was terribly badly recorded, with sudden changes in sound level and patches where a section or even just a few sentences had been re-recorded and dropped in without any attempt to balance sound levels or match the vocal tone. The opening was particularly bad. Lots of poor edits. Very off-putting.
Gets better the deeper in you get ...
- Di A. Lect