Customer Reviews for

Istanbul Passage: A Novel

Average Rating 3.5
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(3)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

I liked this novel, and enjoyed the places it took me, and the p

I liked this novel, and enjoyed the places it took me, and the people I met, well, for the most part. It has a quality of intellect to me that raises it above many standard novels, and I appreciated that. But, speaking of intellect, is our main character, Leon, to be co...
I liked this novel, and enjoyed the places it took me, and the people I met, well, for the most part. It has a quality of intellect to me that raises it above many standard novels, and I appreciated that. But, speaking of intellect, is our main character, Leon, to be considered just a fool for his innocence? And he is a fool, or so I think. Once he saw that his colleague Tommy had betrayed him in a dastardly way, why continue with the mission? It just didn't hold water for me. Yet, he trusted so many others as well. Kay, for one. It was never really clear to me why his wife, Anna, was unable to communicate, although no doubt a wiser reader will point out what I missed. But, it is his trust of the Turkish intelligence agent, Altan, that baffled me the most. Not once did he try to check what he was being told by this man with his own people. He blindly followed to that fateful crossing on the Galata bridge. I thought perhaps the author would try to wrap that up with some explanation. Of course, Leon could not know whom he could trust, but he did trust anyway. I just don't know why.

posted by KenCady on June 17, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

I read Joseph Kanon¿s fantastic book Los Alamos soon after it ca

I read Joseph Kanon’s fantastic book Los Alamos soon after it came out in 1998 and that book blew me out of the water. I had not forgotten it. When I saw his new one Istanbul Passage I was very excited to read it based on my love of his first book.
I probably should ha...
I read Joseph Kanon’s fantastic book Los Alamos soon after it came out in 1998 and that book blew me out of the water. I had not forgotten it. When I saw his new one Istanbul Passage I was very excited to read it based on my love of his first book.
I probably should have researched it a little more, Kanons writing was compared to Le Care’ who I am not a huge fan of (shocking I know!) The writing is slow, detailed and the main character is an everyman kind of sad sack guy.
In this book It took me a long time to get into it, almost halfway through and, had it not been a book to review I would have given up sooner. I was confused most of the time, there are a lot of people and information to keep up with, many countries and towns, it seemed like a very sad book about a man who was hoodwinked by people he was supposedly friends with. His wife was in an institution from the horrors of war and it ended as it began… on a sad note.
My mother loved this book however, she is a spy book junkie and I don’t want to turn anyone off who would love this book too.

posted by anniemichelle on March 10, 2013

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  • Posted June 17, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I liked this novel, and enjoyed the places it took me, and the p

    I liked this novel, and enjoyed the places it took me, and the people I met, well, for the most part. It has a quality of intellect to me that raises it above many standard novels, and I appreciated that. But, speaking of intellect, is our main character, Leon, to be considered just a fool for his innocence? And he is a fool, or so I think. Once he saw that his colleague Tommy had betrayed him in a dastardly way, why continue with the mission? It just didn't hold water for me. Yet, he trusted so many others as well. Kay, for one. It was never really clear to me why his wife, Anna, was unable to communicate, although no doubt a wiser reader will point out what I missed. But, it is his trust of the Turkish intelligence agent, Altan, that baffled me the most. Not once did he try to check what he was being told by this man with his own people. He blindly followed to that fateful crossing on the Galata bridge. I thought perhaps the author would try to wrap that up with some explanation. Of course, Leon could not know whom he could trust, but he did trust anyway. I just don't know why.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 7, 2012

    This is a tale of post World War II espionage that packs a punch

    This is a tale of post World War II espionage that packs a punch. Even though I wanted to stop reading because of the staccato writing style, the bursts of confusing thought, as if someone was talking, thinking, then speaking again, never quite finishing or expressing the original thought, I kept being drawn back, neglecting all else, to finish it in one day. I began to think that it must be the author’s intention to keep the reader as confused as the characters caught up in the mystery, to give the reader the charged feeling of tension the characters experienced. Perhaps the disjointed style was deliberate to make us understand how disjointed this whole spying process really is and was. It was very clearly cut throat. Everyone was used. People were commodities and considered very expendable. Whatever device the author was using, it certainly worked for me. I could not put it down until the end.
    The novel is composed of seven separate sections, each named for a different Turkish location and the action that occurred there. It begins with a scene in which two men are waiting for a boat to arrive with a secret passenger. Soon it becomes apparent that they are both engaged in work of a clandestine nature. During World War II they were involved in espionage work. It seems that post-war, they are still somewhat engaged in those activities. They, and their families, have both been permanently scarred by the effects of the war, and they are motivated by that pain to continue their efforts.
    Leon, who works for a tobacco company in his public life, works for the Americans, on the side, in his secret life. He is awaiting the arrival of a Romanian, a victim of the war, but he knows nothing else about the objective of his mission or about the man. Who was this person? Was he a friend or an enemy? Was he a criminal, a killer, a Jew? Who was he rescuing and why? Leon just blindly followed his orders. Mihai, who works for the Mossad, rescuing Jews, before and after the Holocaust, is doing Leon a favor because he speaks Romanian, and there is a possibility that an interpreter will be necessary. Leon’s wife used to work with Mihai and is now in a sanitarium. Her mind has shut down from all that she has witnessed. When Leon visits, she neither reacts nor responds. She has retreated into a world no one else can enter. It is from his visits and monologues with her that we learn more about Leon and his past.
    When, suddenly, men attached to the American Consulate are murdered, Leon becomes involved and is thrust into a larger plot. He is drawn into the maze of the investigative machinery of the Turks and the deeper undercover work of the Americans. There are bad apples everywhere, and at first he is shocked and ill equipped to deal with the work on so sophisticated a level. However, we soon learn that he is a quick study, and the reader is also suddenly more aware. The previous opacity becomes clearer for them too, and the story really takes off in several exciting directions.
    The story emphasizes the fact that spies are everywhere and they are all watching each other. It is an unending game of chess using people instead of inanimate pieces. The Turks are watching, the Russians are watching, the Israelis are watching and the Americans are watching; they each have their own agenda and brand of tactics, some much more brutal than others. Can anyone be trusted? Can anyone be bought for services if the stakes are high enough? Is survival the ultimate motive?
    Once in the game, is there any exit from it? In the end, who can Leon trust, his friends or his enemies, or perhaps both? Was everyone compromised? Does each serve their own purpose? Is everyone simply using each other? Is the enemy the only one he could truly trust, because they both were the ticket for each other's survival?
    The relationships between the characters seemed too incestuous at times. Coincidence sometimes played an unrealistic role. The writing style was confusing with the short staccato sentences. Still, I couldn’t put it down so the writer accomplished his purpose. He wrote a really good, action-packed book, and the ending was not obvious at all, so it held me until the final page.
    Finally, I was left with some compelling questions. There was so much betrayal. Was it all worth it? Is there ever a good purpose to spying or a good conclusion? Is the spy a willing conspirator or a captive audience with no choice once he gets in because he gets in too deep? Is there always an innocent victim? Do the means really justify the end? Perhaps the road to Hell is truly paved with good intentions.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2012

    Just finished the book and enjoyed it immensely. If you've spe

    Just finished the book and enjoyed it immensely. If you've spent time in Europe and enjoy traveling, you will find yourself imagining places you've visited that might be similar to what the author describes in the book. The book is also written in a way that carries you into the various situations and decisions that Leon faces and I found myself wondering if i would have made the same or different decisions. Not too bad for a book that i purchased because i like the picture on the cover and thought the story might be intriguing!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2012

    Joseph Kanon crafted this story beautiful, and I enjoyed it imme

    Joseph Kanon crafted this story beautiful, and I enjoyed it immensely. I like stories with broad-based stories, especially ones with international intrigues, politics, espionage, culture and cuisine. Istanbul in the late 1940s captured the essence of that flavor with Western Europe and Eastern Europe gearing towards cold war, Arabism on the rise with as Israel appears on the map. Joseph Kanon did a great coming up with a story from this amazing setting, using a fascinating plot and masterful characters. The colorfulness of this story reminds me of Triple Agent Double Cross. Overall, this is a well written story full of surprises right up to the last page, with enough suspense to keep the reader wondering what the next page would hold.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2012

    I am not usually one for thriller/espionage stories, but I took

    I am not usually one for thriller/espionage stories, but I took a chance on this book. Istanbul is one of my favorite cities in the world. It is a perfect backdrop for a novel. I enjoyed the story of Leon (a very well-developed character) and all the others who surround him. I did, however, have some difficulty following all of the characters and how they fit in. I did re-read a number of pages. i felt that I arrived at a party an hour late. During that hour, the host started telling a fascinating story. But by the time I arrived at the party, I had to get caught up - guess who was who and from where, good or bad, etc. It was a bit frustrating at times. However, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. I could see this book as a movie. Leon would be played by Ryan Gosling, no question.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I read Joseph Kanon¿s fantastic book Los Alamos soon after it ca

    I read Joseph Kanon’s fantastic book Los Alamos soon after it came out in 1998 and that book blew me out of the water. I had not forgotten it. When I saw his new one Istanbul Passage I was very excited to read it based on my love of his first book.
    I probably should have researched it a little more, Kanons writing was compared to Le Care’ who I am not a huge fan of (shocking I know!) The writing is slow, detailed and the main character is an everyman kind of sad sack guy.
    In this book It took me a long time to get into it, almost halfway through and, had it not been a book to review I would have given up sooner. I was confused most of the time, there are a lot of people and information to keep up with, many countries and towns, it seemed like a very sad book about a man who was hoodwinked by people he was supposedly friends with. His wife was in an institution from the horrors of war and it ended as it began… on a sad note.
    My mother loved this book however, she is a spy book junkie and I don’t want to turn anyone off who would love this book too.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 22, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Absolutely horrible

    I thought it was about istanbul but everything was totally confused.I will not read another book nor recommend it to anyone.

    I might ad that I had thkought it was something that would be very interesting.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2012

    Read all Kanon books

    Every one of Kanon's books is excellent reading. It's all there: beautiful use of the language, compellingly plotted story, suspenseful plot,and character development that makes the reader care what happens.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2012

    Good Suspense Story

    Fun read with great twists and turns. You won't trust anyone after reading this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2012

    Everything this author has written has been swell and this book

    Everything this author has written has been swell and this book is no exception. Wonderful and would highly recommend to all fans of the genre.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2014

    Superb

    If you like characters with depth, a plot that soars beyond predictable and top quality writing, you cannot go wrong with this book. In Kannon I have found a new favorite writer for this genre

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2013

    Great post WWII thriller

    Have just discovered this author and can't wait to read his other books

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2013

    Not Great Reading

    This was my first book by Joseph Kanon, it will probably be my last. To say it left me wanting would be an understatement. I am uncertain what message the writer is trying to convey. From my viewpoint, I have no idea if justice was served. It was certainly not a page turner.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2012

    Terribly Typical

    I have read this author 3-times; and he or I ard batting 0,333, terribly typical airport literature, what is labeled trash by my English lit proff

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 15, 2012

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    Posted January 10, 2013

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    Posted October 23, 2012

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    Posted May 29, 2012

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    Posted February 22, 2013

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    Posted May 29, 2012

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