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The Shanghai Factor
     

The Shanghai Factor

3.2 6
by Charles McCarry
 

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Charles McCarry is widely considered one of the greatest espionage writers of the all-time, and in THE SHANGHAI FACTOR he returns to his roots with an absorbing tale of global skullduggery that leaves the reader guessing at every turn.

A young, unnamed spy is living in Shanghai in order to observe and absorb the culture and language so as to aid a shadowy U.S.

Overview

Charles McCarry is widely considered one of the greatest espionage writers of the all-time, and in THE SHANGHAI FACTOR he returns to his roots with an absorbing tale of global skullduggery that leaves the reader guessing at every turn.

A young, unnamed spy is living in Shanghai in order to observe and absorb the culture and language so as to aid a shadowy U.S. agency known only as 'HQ'. However when he meets a sultry and mysterious woman named Mei, they begin a torrid affair that threatens to expose him to HQ's enemies.

Soon the head of HQ, Luther Burbank, gives the spy a task that will force him to risk everything: go undercover as the American ambassador for a massive Chinese multinational conglomerate, and learn the secrets of their powerful CEO Chen Qi, whom HQ believes to be a front man for the nearly uncrackable Chinese Intelligence, known as the Guoanbu.

Soon the spy finds that HQ isn't the only one tracking his every move, and the deadly Guoanbu may be aware of his true identity. Danger lies around every corner, as the enigmatic Mei flits in and ouf of his life, yet every time he thinks he's closer to the truth, he finds himself drawn further into a deadly cat-and-mouse game between HQ and the Guoanbu that might not only end his life, but could upend the East/West balance of power.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post - Patrick Anderson
…highly entertaining…McCarry's plot moves along nicely, but the novel's real pleasure comes in his asides on human nature and the spy game…The Shanghai Factor [is] the autumnal work of a master, looking back with no regrets.
Publishers Weekly
Meticulous, intelligent prose is the real star of this excellent espionage thriller from former CIA operations officer McCarry (Christopher’s Ghosts), who focuses more on the psychological challenges faced by street-level agents and those running the operations than on physical action. One day on a Shanghai road, the unnamed 29-year-old narrator is riding his bicycle when a beautiful young Chinese woman, Mei, runs into him on her bike. Is it an accident? Our hero, “a rookie spook” working as a sleeper for the agency he calls Headquarters, immediately pegs Mei as an agent for the Chinese Ministry of State Security, but that doesn’t stop him from becoming her lover for the next two years. Eventually, his boss, the head of his agency’s counterintelligence division, calls him back to Washington, D.C., and gives him the assignment of building a network of Chinese spies drawn from the privileged class of party leaders’ children. Back in China, the narrator takes a job with a mysterious, imperious industrialist, Chen Qi, until he’s fired and assigned to Headquarters in Washington. While not much happens by the standard of your average spy novel and events get wrapped up quickly at the end, this book is a must-read for genre aficionados and McCarry’s many fans. (June)
From the Publisher
“Bowlby’s low-key performance mirrors McCarry’s carefully imagined, mundane world, but one permeated with an undercurrent of danger, source unknown, a fact that heightens the sense of menace. . . . . Bowlby portrays the large cast of Chinese characters . . . in authentic-sounding accents. A strong sense of place effectively adds to the impact of this cerebral, interior thriller.”
Booklist

“This is an intricately plotted tale of believable espionage that, read by Stephen Bowlby, becomes an intriguing audio.”
BookPage

Booklist
“Bowlby’s low-key performance mirrors McCarry’s carefully imagined, mundane world, but one permeated with an undercurrent of danger, source unknown, a fact that heightens the sense of menace. . . . . Bowlby portrays the large cast of Chinese characters . . . in authentic-sounding accents. A strong sense of place effectively adds to the impact of this cerebral, interior thriller.”
Booklist

BookPage
“Stephen Bowlby adopts the perfect tone in this audio edition. . . . [His] characters are distinct and he differentiates between each of them subtly, never going over the top into caricature. Fans of McCarry will be as pleased, both with this latest outing and with Bowlby’s smooth, professional reading.”
Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews
Nuanced, devilishly intricate thriller sends an enigmatic hero to China and far-flung ports to scope out agents, double agents and enticing women. That a semi-colon ("That archaic punctuation mark…") turns up here as a clue signals the level of subtlety that characterizes the plot of this latest from thriller and CIA veteran McCarry. Early on comes a harrowing action scene on the Yangtze, but otherwise, quiet and only occasionally violent moments drive the plot. In a tale in which characters are seldom what they seem, it's significant that the protagonist and narrator (hereafter "Spy") is never named. Known only to his handler, but not even to the U.S. intelligence agency he works for (also never named but located near Langley, VA., if you need a hint), Spy is a former football jock, a former fighter in Afghanistan and a man who may or may not care about his survival. He's also intensely hirsute, which prompts Mei, a woman with whom he's besotted, to call him "the chimpanzee." But when six thugs abduct Spy, tossing him to the rats in the Yangtze, a contact tells him to get out of China. Back in the States, and desperately missing Mei, he checks in with his handler, Burbank, who makes visitors feel insecure and, literally, unsteady by seating them in a chair with sawed off front legs. Burbank wants Spy to find out what he can about a Chinese conglomerate's ties to the Goanbu, the Chinese Intelligence Agency. Spy goes to work for the conglomerate. He's soon jumping continents, gathering data. Before long, he finds himself in mortal danger, shadowed, in chilling scenes, on planes, in restaurants and on city streets. The biggest twist of all comes, well-timed, in the narrative's final chapters, when McCarry's largely cerebral puzzle reaches a breathless, emotionally resonant denouement. Meticulous plotting, literate prose and mordant wit make this a thriller for connoisseurs of the genre.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802193308
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
06/04/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
149,948
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Charles McCarry served under deep cover as a CIA operations officer in Europe, Asia, and Africa. He is the author of twelve previous critically acclaimed novels, as well as numerous works of non-fiction including Citizen Nader. He currently splits his time between Florida and the Berkshires.

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The Shanghai Factor 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
NewarkFan More than 1 year ago
McCarry is the real deal in terms of experience at the Agency and his many uber-great novels prior to this one. But here he fails to get his setting right. Many of his takes on Shanghai just don't jive with reality.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought that the book had a good story line and was very suspensful. I was, however, disappointed in how abruptly the book was ended. The author had a great plot going and then suddenly wrapped up all of the complex storylines in the matter of a few paragraphs. I would have liked to see the ending unfold with more detail. A lot of issues were glossed over superficially. I don't think the book achieved its full potential.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Normally, I would rate this book 2-3 stars. However, as compared to Paul Christopher series, which were all at least 4, this is such a let down that I can not give more than 1 star rating.
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