Shake Off

Shake Off

by Mischa Hiller
     
 

On the run, Michel must use his spy-craft to shake off his pursuers and stay one step ahead.

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Overview

On the run, Michel must use his spy-craft to shake off his pursuers and stay one step ahead.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set at the end of the cold war, Hiller’s beautifully written second novel (after 2010’s Sabra Zoo) chronicles the education of a spy. PLO agent Michel Khoury, who lives in a modest London bedsit but spent his first 15 years in a refugee camp in Lebanon, works for spymaster Abu Leila, who uses him mainly as a courier to shuttle documents from London to East Berlin and back. Now Leila wants his protégé to set up a meeting that will “change the course of history.” Meanwhile, Michel falls for his next-door neighbor, a playful young Englishwoman named Helen, despite a lifetime of keeping strict control over his emotions. Their romance causes increasing difficulties for Michel as he struggles to implement Leila’s instructions and stay true to his cause. A closing twist puts an entirely new perspective on Michel’s life, beliefs, and loyalties. Literary fiction fans will appreciate the sensitive, realistic portrayal of Michel and Helen’s love affair. Agent: David Grossman, David Grossman Literary Agency. (Aug.)
The Economist
"Poignant and human. ... a unique and engaging voice ... deftly drawn ... Powerful and thought-provoking, this is a book that stays with the reader. Mr Hiller's Shake Off is hard to shake off."
Booklist
"Arresting. As much about human longing as derring-do. More than enough tradecraft, suspense, and double-dealing...in common with the writings of Graham Greene and John le Carré."
Haaretz (Israel)
"In the best Le Carre tradition ... Hiller brings to his work not only a craftman's skill but also a compassion for his characters that proves infectious."
Saudi Gazette (Saudi Arabia)
"Ingeniously plotted and skillfully paced ... interlaces compelling human stories with political espionage. The suspense builds until the very end."
The Jordan Times (Jordan)
"Successfully mixes the suspense and fast pace of a spy story with a set of complex, compelling characters and unexpected situations."
Independent on Sunday (UK)
"Gripping [and] taut ... recalls the cool detachment and compelling eye for ordinary detail that characterized the early thrillers of Graham Greene."
Telegraph (UK)
"Melancholy and dreamlike, Hiller's neat upending of conventions movingly captures the realpolitik of a conflict perpetrated by the shared interests of enemies."
Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
"Excellent ... A fast-moving, literate thriller."
Charles Cumming
"Hypnotic ... A spy thriller of the highest class."
David Morrell
"SHAKE OFF carries the conviction of authentic espionage tradecraft on every page. Imagine John Le Carré combined with Ken Follett. Smart and tense and real enough to be scary."
Thomas Mullen
"The best spy novels not only spin a great story, they also take us into the minds of characters who are mysteries even to themselves. SHAKE OFF is as deceptive as it is perceptive, an intimate portrait of a man veering away from one tragedy and possibly straight into another one."
Will Lavender
"Le Carré said we live in 'coded times,' and SHAKE OFF is a book that takes that idea to hypnotizing levels. A novel about identity and sadness and love, it is also a hellaciously entertaining chase thriller. But the achievement of the novel rests in its orphan main character; Michel is a great character, one of the finest heroes I've seen in the spy genre simply because he is like so many of us, desperately searching for who he is and where he came from. This is a novel that is as much about personhood as it is about tradecraft, and it succeeds on both counts. My highest recommendation."
Adam Woog
"Contemplative and consistently intriguing."
Malcolm Gladwell
"SHAKE OFF absolutely blew me away. Hiller's novel has the benefit of mining every trope of the thriller genre while being absolutely original at the same time. I will read anything by Hiller from now on."
From the Publisher
"SHAKE OFF carries the conviction of authentic espionage tradecraft on every page. Imagine John Le Carré combined with Ken Follett. Smart and tense and real enough to be scary."—David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of First Blood and Creepers"

Le Carré said we live in 'coded times,' and SHAKE OFF is a book that takes that idea to hypnotizing levels. A novel about identity and sadness and love, it is also a hellaciously entertaining chase thriller. But the achievement of the novel rests in its orphan main character; Michel is a great character, one of the finest heroes I've seen in the spy genre simply because he is like so many of us, desperately searching for who he is and where he came from. This is a novel that is as much about personhood as it is about tradecraft, and it succeeds on both counts. My highest recommendation."—Will Lavender, New York Times bestselling author of Obedience and Dominance"

Poignant and human. ... a unique and engaging voice ... deftly drawn ... Powerful and thought-provoking, this is a book that stays with the reader. Mr Hiller's Shake Off is hard to shake off."—The Economist"

The best spy novels not only spin a great story, they also take us into the minds of characters who are mysteries even to themselves. SHAKE OFF is as deceptive as it is perceptive, an intimate portrait of a man veering away from one tragedy and possibly straight into another one."—Thomas Mullen, author of The Revisionists"

In the best Le Carre tradition ... Hiller brings to his work not only a craftman's skill but also a compassion for his characters that proves infectious."—Haaretz (Israel)"

Ingeniously plotted and skillfully paced ... interlaces compelling human stories with political espionage. The suspense builds until the very end."—Saudi Gazette (Saudi Arabia)

Library Journal
Having escaped from the exploding Middle East, Michel Khoury has become an intelligence operative with a desire for peace, a stash of passports and unmarked bills, and a new girlfriend who doesn't know his true identity. Soon, they're on the run. Half-Palestinian and half-British, Hiller has had great reviews from the UK and beyond for his first thriller (and second novel after the award-winning Sabra Zoo).
Kirkus Reviews
In Hiller's (Sabra Zoo, 2010) second thriller, Michel Khoury is a skilled linguist, a supposed student at the London School of Oriental and African Studies, and a PLO operative controlled by the mysterious Abu Leila. Khoury is a Lebanese Christian, a survivor of a horrific massacre in a Beirut refugee camp. Discovered by Leila, a PLO mastermind rumored to be connected to Arafat, Michel has been groomed since his orphaned teenage years for a purpose never revealed to him. He's learned multiple languages and was schooled in spy craft in Gorbachev's Moscow. Now, Abu Leila has assigned Michel to London, where he runs clandestine errands and acts as Leila's agent. With no other contact within the PLO, Khoury is confused but loyal when he is tasked to find a site for a meeting between Palestinians and Israelis who are working secretly for a single-state solution to Middle Eastern turmoil, a gathering sure to draw assassins from all quarters. In a life driven by deceit, Khoury's motives, decisions and reactions can be traced to the massacre that cost him his family. Khoury's initial human contact is the superbly written Abu Leila, but Hiller opens the narrative by introducing Helen, a beautiful and free-spirited English anthropology doctoral candidate. A romance begins, one filled with the same ambiguity that mirrors Michel's life as an operative. But then Michel's world is shattered when Abu is assassinated in Berlin shortly before the clandestine conference. That sends Khoury, accompanied by Helen, into the wilds of Scotland, pursued by Abu's killers. Moving from Lebanon to Cyprus to Berlin to Moscow and then to London, a city that Hiller knows and makes central to the story, the author writes believably of the world of undercover spies, both about the practicalities--picking locks, coding messages, using false identities--and the atmosphere of constant paranoia, continual double-dealing and amorality. An entertainingly complex, quick-moving psychological thriller.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781846590887
Publisher:
Telegram Books
Publication date:
09/13/2011
Pages:
279
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.75(h) x 1.00(d)

Related Subjects

What People are saying about this

David Morrell
SHAKE OFF carries the conviction of authentic espionage tradecraft on every page. Imagine John le Carré combined with Ken Follett. Smart and tense and real enough to be scary.
—David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of First Blood and Creepers
Will Lavender
Le Carré said we live in 'coded times,' and SHAKE OFF is a book that takes that idea to hypnotizing levels. A novel about identity and sadness and love, it is also a hellaciously entertaining chase thriller. But the achievement of the novel rests in its orphan main character; Michel is a great character, one of the finest heroes I've seen in the spy genre simply because he is like so many of us, desperately searching for who he is and where he came from. This is a novel that is as much about personhood as it is tradecraft, and it succeeds on both counts. My highest recommendation.
—Will Lavender, New York Times bestselling author of Obedience and Dominance
Charles Cumming
Hypnotic … A spy thriller of the highest class.
—Charles Cumming, New York Times bestselling author of The Trinity Six

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Meet the Author


Mischa Hiller is a winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in the Best First Book Category for South Asia & Europe. Raised in London, Beirut, and Dar El Salaam, Hiller lives in Cambridge, England.

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