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Very enjoyable novel. Not Robert Harris's best but still a fascinating and gripping read. One complaint: this so-called unabridged recording is missing the crucial meeting between our German protagonist and Neville Chamberlain. I was thrown when characters were referencing a pivotal scene that I hadn't heard read; and when the German protagonist is leaving a location i never heard him arrive at. After thumbing through a hard copy of the novel, this scene occurs between Audible chapters 20 and 21: after the British explain to the Czechs the outcome of the agreement, and before Hartmann "leaves the hotel and suspects he is being followed". Sort it out, Audible! This is a crucial scene, the climax of the novel and what our protagonists are trying to do - without this scene the protagonists seem hugely ineffectual and their story arc is missing something vital!
92 of 94 people found this review helpful
To an extent you know what you're going to get with Robert Harris's historical fiction. There's always going to be a strong feeling of time and place based on thoroughly detailed research. You're going to find characters given real depth whether they be genuine historical personalities or the the fictional ones that Harris uses to carry the story. All of that is true here in a novel that I found highly satisfying to listen to even if it didn't hit the heights of excitement.
There is a dual aspect to the story in that two old college friends find themselves on opposite sides of the conference with both playing their own high stakes games. The book provides a brief but extremely important episode in their lives and the history of Europe. To me it felt as much like a docudrama as a fictional novel as the plot stuck so closely to historical fact.
The narration by David Rintoul is steady with no attempt to give the non-British characters any kind of national accents. It feels entirely appropriate to the text with perhaps the only element of real theatre coming late on with some of Hitler's outbursts.
Harris is clearly scratching some kind of itch here. He is returning to the subject of a documentary he made almost 30 years ago and he portrays Chamberlain with considerably more sympathy than many historians. The quality of the writing is, as you would expect from this author, is extremely high. I don't think it's the most thrilling of thrillers but it is a good story with a very authentic feeling atmosphere to it.
52 of 57 people found this review helpful