The Company of Strangers

( 2 )

Overview

The stifling summer streets of Lisbon are teeming with spies and informers when Andrea Aspinall, an English mathematician turned spy, disappears under a new identity. Military attaché Karl Voss, experienced in the illusions of intrigue, arrives in Lisbon under the German Legation, though he is secretly working against the Nazis so that atomic and rocket technology do not find their way into Hitler's hands.
In the lethal tranquility of a corrupted paradise Andrea and Karl meet ...

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Overview

The stifling summer streets of Lisbon are teeming with spies and informers when Andrea Aspinall, an English mathematician turned spy, disappears under a new identity. Military attaché Karl Voss, experienced in the illusions of intrigue, arrives in Lisbon under the German Legation, though he is secretly working against the Nazis so that atomic and rocket technology do not find their way into Hitler's hands.
In the lethal tranquility of a corrupted paradise Andrea and Karl meet and attempt to find love. Tragically, a night of violence leaves Andrea the keeper of a secret that triggers a lifelong addiction to the clandestine world. From Portugal to England and finally Cold War Berlin, she gradually discovers that the deepest secrets aren't held by governments, but by those closest to you.
Award-winning novelist Robert Wilson transcends the genre of spy novels in The Company of Strangers, a thrilling page-turner yet also an imaginative and affecting tale of romance.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Award-winning British author Robert Wilson has crafted another intricate, powerful thriller -- a captivating blend of historical fiction, political intrigue, espionage, and passion. This tale begins early in the 1940s -- the world is at war, secrets are more valuable than currency, and love seems almost as impossible as peace. Physicist Karl Voss is a trusted, if junior, intelligence officer for the German army, facing the knowledge that the Nazi war machine is self-destructing. As the personal and political costs of the war soar, Voss becomes a double agent -- an enemy of the Nazi state, yet still a loyal defender of the German nation -- a role that necessitates lying to colleagues and enemies alike. His superiors place him in Lisbon, to facilitate secret communications with the Allies. Oxford-educated British mathematician Andrea Aspinall admires the simple elegance of numbers and the complexity of what they can express. Her brilliance and her loveliness, combined with fluency in German and Portuguese, make this young woman perfect for the spy game. Soon after leaving school, she's offered a job abroad…and a new identity. Officially, "Anne Ashworth" will be working for Shell Oil in Lisbon, a clandestine existence to cover Andrea's real work for the Company, untangling threads that could connect to German atomic research. Amid power plays and betrayals that blur the lines between friend and foe, Andrea and Karl make an unexpected and unsanctioned connection, learn that too little trust can kill as quickly as too much…and share secrets that still have power decades later. Sue Stone
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR THE COMPANY OF STRANGERS
"[The Company of Strangers] is streets ahead of most other thrillers."-The Times (London)

"A plotter's delight . . . [Wilson] creates an intriguing moral maze for his heroine to negotiate."-The Guardian (London)

PRAISE FOR A SMALL DEATH IN LISBON
Winner of the Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel

"Robert Wilson's A Small Death in Lisbon turns a local murder case into a taut international thriller . . . with considerable, nailbaiting skill."-Time

"A tour de force."-Los Angeles Times

"Historically sprawling, richly distilled thriller . . . The whole is a suspenseful, intricately plotted, violent and steamy tale. You will turn the last page of this compelling novel out of breath."-The New York Times

Publishers Weekly
This tense thriller from the author of A Small Death in Lisbon (2000) mixes mathematics with wartime intrigue to fine effect. British intelligence hires Andrea Aspinall, a mathematical wunderkind, to make use of her extraordinary gift in hunting atomic secrets. But Andrea disappears in Lisbon, where she adopts a new identity and meets Karl Voss, an attach? at the German legation, who's plotting against the Nazis. The action shifts to Portugal and cold-war Berlin, where intrigue and counter-intrigue are routine, until a bleak ending brings the reader up short. The narrative spans the years from WWII to glasnost and the collapse of the Berlin Wall, yet for all the inevitable social commentary the novel remains at heart a conventional sociopolitical thriller with strong echoes of le Carr?, Ambler, Deighton and others not to mention Gravity's Rainbow. As the story lengthens and the calendar pages fall away, suspense inevitably slackens, though for the most part the novel remains supremely readable. Wilson's spare prose style never becomes skeletal, and the characters, while lightly sketched, remain believable. The author portrays Andrea in particular with sympathy and insight, and adumbrates her remarkable ability early on when she describes what might be called the joys of mathematics: "The number six... has three divisors one, two and three which if added together come to... six. Isn't that perfect?" The verdict: an evocative and compelling thriller. 5-city author tour; 75,000 first printing. (Oct. 19) Forecast: After the success of A Small Death in Lisbon, winner of Britain's CWA Gold Dagger Award, a lot is riding on this follow-up; expect sales to exceed those of the previous novel.Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156027106
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 11/1/2002
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 1,065,425
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

ROBERT WILSON is the author of numerous novels, including The Company of Strangers and A Small Death in Lisbon , which won the Gold Dagger Award as Best Crime Novel of the Year from Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association. A graduate of Oxford University, he has worked in shipping, advertising, and trading in Africa, and has lived in Greece, Portugal, and West Africa.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2002

    Oddly compelling

    Quirky book which keeps you reading. Sometimes the scenes seem too real and then it changes on the next page.Characters veer in and out of reality but there is an overall atmosphere that makes a world for itself in the imagination. It is a book to take on holiday and just wallow in. Voss and Andrea are two characters on the run from the same thing, history is just an incidental matter. These two would be fugitives anyway.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    exciting espionage thriller

    During World War II, British intelligence hires Andrea Aspinall, a mathematical wizard who thinks numbers are perfect. Andrea is to use her numerical skills to learn German atomic weaponry secrets. In Lisbon, Andrea vanishes under a new identity. She also meets German attaché Karl Voss, who believes the Nazis are losing the war and destroying Germany in their efforts to keep fighting. Karl and Andrea share a delightful night of lovemaking while violence flares everywhere. However, by morning¿s light Andrea has a secret to hide and an addict¿s thirst for more clandestine operations even if espionage is such an imperfect realm to this numerical expert. As the war ends and the Cold War heats up in places like divided Berlin, Andrea remains a prime player, whose past will soon catch up to her. Andrea is the numero uno of this exciting espionage thriller. From the beginning readers understand her as she joyfully explains the world in terms of the perfection of mathematical systems even if she fails to include the number six as a divisor into itself. The story line spans several decades, but though interesting and insightful also acts like a suspense thinner. Still readers will enjoy this action packed tale mindful of The Third Man because the novel contains people, including those individuals still out in the cold, that seem real. Readers will enjoy THE COMPANY OF STRANGERS and seek other works from Robert Wilson (see A SMALL DEATH IN LISBON). Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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