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Patrick AndersonIf you enjoy spy fiction, or simply fine writing, try Christopher's Ghosts. Elitism aside, it's an impressive performance by a novelist nearing 77.
— The Washington Post
It's a case of tiger chasing tiger as Christopher is pursued by the only man alive who can match his tradecraft or his instincts. Years previously, Christopher witnessed an unspeakable atrocity committed by an S.S. officer. Now, at the height of the Cold War, that officer has emerged to destroy the last living witness of his savage crime. As he edges toward the final confrontation with this mortal enemy, Christopher is forced to operate in the one theater he had thought he had ...
It's a case of tiger chasing tiger as Christopher is pursued by the only man alive who can match his tradecraft or his instincts. Years previously, Christopher witnessed an unspeakable atrocity committed by an S.S. officer. Now, at the height of the Cold War, that officer has emerged to destroy the last living witness of his savage crime. As he edges toward the final confrontation with this mortal enemy, Christopher is forced to operate in the one theater he had thought he had secured—his own past.
With Christopher's Ghosts, a novel whose cinematic scope and penetrating depth transcend the bounds of even the greatest works in its genre, Charles McCarry has surpassed his own matchless reputation as an espionage novelist.
Veteran McCarry (The Tears of Autumn) remains a compelling storyteller, as shown in his latest spy thriller, which chronicles the early career of his series hero, Paul Christopher. In 1939 Berlin, 16-year-old Paul struggles, with his American novelist father and German aristocrat mother, against the Nazi rulers of Germany. The Christophers are refined intellectuals and known to be sympathetic to the persecuted Jews. A sadistic SS officer, Major Stutzer, takes pleasure in harassing Paul, who has fallen into an impassioned but forbidden love affair with a Jewish doctor's daughter. As war breaks out, Paul barely escapes, while his lover meets a horrible fate at Stutzer's hands. Flash forward to 1959: Paul, now one of the CIA's top operatives, undertakes a clandestine operation in East Berlin, where the Soviets have recruited a certain ex-Nazi officer to train their Arab allies. Can Paul finally face his old nemesis and put the ghosts of the past to rest? The book speeds toward a satisfying, inevitable conclusion. (May)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
I found the characters engaging and interesting. This novel was primarily about them, and set against the background of impending world war made the issues more poingnant. Very good
i subsequently bought three other books by the author.
Posted May 24, 2007
Since I first bought Tears of Autumn, used, on a lark, in 1987, I have known that I would pay $24.99 for a hard-bound copy of a grocery list scribbled on a cocktail napkin, if Charles McCarry were the author. Upon the two species of earthly espionage novels, guns&guts and talk&stalk, McCarry gazes down, benevolently, from a celestial height. His seraphic panorama of the Christopher family -- aristocratic heroes of WWII Germany, friends, cousins and progenitors of the US' most powerful intelligence officers -- could have been sung by symphonic choir instead of read if only Bach were not dead, could have been rendered in a Hermitage-sized exhibition of paintings if Albrecht Durer and Jan Vermeer could be channeled into a cooperative posthumous partnership with Nancy Spector. As we do have it, the most under-read series of novels in contemporary American fiction now stands as an octuagint with the addition of Christopher's Ghosts. Otto Penzler may be bound by self-respect to restrain his terms of admiration for our greatest living scribe of the intersection of world events and personal life, but as an anonymous lover of secrets and intrigue fiction myself, I have no such compulsion. McCarry's thematic and prosodic powers have crescendoed steadily throughout his later adulthood, much like the powers 'though no other resemblance should be inferred' of Proust, Goethe, or Shakespeare. His sentences are so highly refined, so easy to read, and keep reading, one after another, that it is easy, upon reaching a chapter-end, to conclude that they are not really there. You have been receiving direct input to your brain from some miraculous skull cap with the ability to create a fully qualified five-sense hallucination of another person's life. And what a life. I know of no self-aware American man who would not choose, even knowing full-well the profound sacrifices the choice would require, to be born the sole male child of Lori and Hubbard Christopher. Where our contemporary American lives are circumscribed by sticky, cacophonous webs of overlapping, prosaic and disposable noise, Paul Christopher lives, within his mind, in an intimate music hall, suffused with natural light and dear ancestral melody. An attempt to assail his composure and confidence is as foolish as to assail the commitment of those successive generations who considered it their privilege to build a single Gothic cathedral. This is not a religious book. Yet, this is the best analog of the Christophers' multi-generational project, through all eight free-standing yet interrelated movements of McCarry's masterpiece symphony: they have toiled, thanklessly, through world wars and geopolitical stupidity, one operation at a time, one metaphorical plague at a time, many knowing they would not live to see the project of their absolute faith completed, in order to place another course of stones in the walls of the great covert cathedral of American power and prestige. Mr.McCarry, you have the gratitude of a silent nation of readers, far too small, inside and out, who could not imagine the world without your lovers of secrets.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
In 1939 Berlin sixteen year old Paul Christopher struggles with the Nazis control of much of society. However, his American novelist father and his German aristocratic mother warn Paul to be careful as the SS do not mind abducting and torturing intellects especially those who do not hide their disdain towards the Fatherland¿s mistreating the Jews. Paul learns this fist hand from vicious SS officer Major Stutzer who enjoys irritating the half breed teen. Paul falls in love with a Jew, which places him further in the abusive sphere of Stutzer. However, as war explodes on the continent, Stutzer personally deals with the Jew SS style leaving Paul with a bitter need to one day avenge his beloved though WWII and the Cold War prevented his opportunity.----------- In 1959 CIA operative Paul Christopher works an undercover sting in East Berlin to prevent a Soviet plot to gain leverage in the Middle East. Studying closely the Suez fiasco that alienated much of the Arab world, the Soviets see opportunity to gain footholds in the Middle East they hire former SS Officer Stutzer to train their new allies. Christopher and Stutzer will soon meet with a two decade score to be settled that leaves the needs of both their countries on the back burner.--------------- This is an exciting early entry in the Christopher Cold War espionage tales (see THE LAST SUPPER and TEARS OF AUTUMN). The story line is action-packed as 1939 and 1959 Berlin come to life with both eras sharing the commonality of bleak dangerous scenarios. That similarity adds a powerful haunting feel of life at the center of two distinct related wars. Paul is fabulous while his lethal sadistic adversary is somewhat a stereotype of the SS Officer, but also shows how well this group adapted in defeat. Charles McCarry is at his espionage best with this salad days thriller starring his long time protagonist, but Berlin steals the show.------------ Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 17, 2009
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Posted July 10, 2011
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