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Archangel [Hardcover]

Robert Harris
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)

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Book Description

21 Sep 1998
Present-day Russia is the setting for this stunning new novel from Robert Harris, author of the bestsellers "Fatherland" and "Enigma,"
Archangel tells the story of four days in the life of Fluke Kelso, a dissipated, middle-aged former Oxford historian, who is in Moscow to attend a conference on the newly opened Soviet archives.
One night, Kelso is visited in his hotel room by an old NKVD officer, a former bodyguard of the secret police chief Lavrenty Beria. The old man claims to have been at Stalin's dacha on the night Stalin had his fatal stroke, and to have helped Beria steal the dictator's private papers, among them a notebook.
Kelso decides to use his last morning in Moscow to check out the old man's story. But what starts as an idle inquiry in the Lenin Library soon turns into a murderous chase across nighttime Moscow and up to northern Russia--to the vast forests near the White Sea port of Archangel, where the final secret of Josef Stalin has been hidden for almost half a century.
Archangel combines the imaginative sweep and dark suspense of Fatherland with the meticulous historical detail of Enigma. The result is Robert Harris's most compelling novel yet.

"From the Paperback edition."

Product details

  • Hardcover: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson; First Edition edition (21 Sep 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091779243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091779245
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.7 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 528,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Harris is the author Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, Imperium and The Ghost - all of which were worldwide bestsellers. His work has been translated into thirty-three languages. He was born in Nottingham in 1957 and is a graduate of Cambridge University. He worked as a reporter on the BBC's Newsnight and Panorama programmes, before becoming Political Editor of the Observer in 1987, and then a columnist on the Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph. In 2003 he was named Columnist of the Year in the British Press Awards. He lives near Hungerford in Berkshire with his wife and their four children.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Before political journalist Robert Harris turned to fiction and resurrected Hitler for his best selling novel Fatherland, he also wrote a hugely entertaining account of the farce surrounding the publication of the hoax Hitler diaries. Archangel, with the obvious exception of substituting Hitler for that other 20th-century ogre Josef Stalin, can be seen as something of a combination of these previous projects. The novel opens in present-day Russia where a louche Oxford academic, Christopher "Fluke" Kelso, is attending a conference on the newly available Stalin archives. Kelso quickly becomes embroiled in a quest for some of Uncle Joe's still secret papers--and also a quest to make his own academic reputation--but soon uncovers more than he bargains for. The ghosts of the old authoritarian past exert a peculiar and all too powerful tug on Yeltsin's fragile capitalist democracy and as Kelso is drawn ever nearer to the secret that lies in the remote White Sea port of Archangel so the tragedies of the past become hideously more plausible in the present. Harris is historically sound, politically astute and his acute insight into the apparatus of state repression and minds of despots is unnerving. But most of all he tells a terrific yarn and Archangel sees him on top form. This is his best yet.--Nick Wroe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Praise for
"Elegant, atmospheric . . . a tense and thoughtful thriller." --"San Francisco Chronicle"
"Literate and savvy . . . It's always a pleasure to encounter a historical thriller this subtle and detailed. . . . [ ] brims with wartime intrigue and paranoia." --"The Washington Post Book World"
"A stunning debut." --"Boston Globe"
"An elegant thriller, a thoughtful, frightening story of complicity." --"San Francisco Chronicle"
"An absorbing, expertly written novel." --"The New York Times"

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good thriller with meticulous historical detail 22 Feb 2006
Fluke Kelso is in Moscow to attend a conference on the recently opened Soviet archives. He is a Oxford historian and Mr Harris's novel tells the story of four days in Kelso's life which starts one night when a former NKVD officer visits him in his hotel room. He claims to have been the bodyguard of Lavrenty Beria who was at the time the chief of the secret police just before Stalin's death. According to him, he witnessed Stalin's death when he had his fatal stroke and he also saw Beria steal his papers among which was a black notebook.
The following day, Kelso decides to verify the man's story at the Lenin Library. At this point he doesn't know that his enquiry is the beginning of a breathless chase from Moscow to the port of Archangel located on the White Sea in order to unveil Stalin's last secret which has been hidden for nearly fifty years.
Good suspense, plenty of action and an interesting historical background are qualities in this novel which place Robert Harris at the same level as writers like John Buchan, John LeCarré and Len Deighton.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent page-turner 11 Jan 2006
I don't generally read bestseller popular fiction but have been very impressed with this book and his other, first novel, Fatherland. It's not just that he tells a cracking tale but he has some interesting ideas and the quality of his writing is good, not too pulpy.
Harris paints a compelling portrait of modern Russia, particularly Moscow but at the same time introduces some fascinating theories and ideas about the political direction Russia is taking and the burden of the past it drags behind it. The result is that you are simultaneously gripped by an exciting piece of fiction but also slightly horrified at how true to life much of this could be.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another historical hit for Harris 3 Jun 2005
By Heather
I really enjoyed Archangel. Having previously studied Communist Russia, I recognised many of the political figures featured in the book, but am now looking forward to reading even more about the subject.
That said, you don't need any knowledge of the subject to enjoy this book (though concentrating on the many Russian names is vital!). As with Harris' other excellent thriller Fatherland, I found myself instantly empathising with the characters of Archangel, namely 'maverick' academic Fluke Kelso (in Moscow to attend a conference about the newly opened Soviet archives), and desperately willed him on in his quest to find out whether Stalin's secret notebook does indeed exist.
However, Harris cleverly shows the many sides to the effects of Kelso's investigations, and also draws a sympathetic picture of the long-suffering Russian police chief Suvorin, who too suspects there are many secrets buried in Russia's history but knows unearthing them may have a much greater impact than that of a 'scoop'.
As the plot moved on I was compelled to rush through the always evocative descriptions of 'New Russia' to get to its conclusion. Archangel is exciting, fast-paced, eerie as well as sad. A fantastic book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid Harris novel 25 July 2006
By Paz
Set in modern day Russia, this gripping novel tells of the dangerous hunt for a secret notebook belonging to Josef Stalin.

Mixing historical fact with a truly believable tale, the plot quickly develops into an enthralling read. With an excellent medley of characters, suspense and intrigue this novel is a classic Harris thriller.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written, gripping storyline 4 Mar 2007
I really enjoyed Archangel, Fluke Kelso proves a believeable flawed main protagonist. Nice not to have a swashbuckling, gun toting bodybuilder at the centre of the story.

The main plot is handled extremely well, and really makes the reader buy into the plausibility of what unfolds.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great alternative version of history 24 July 2003
By Darren Simons TOP 500 REVIEWER
Archangel tells the story of a historian called Fluke Kelso who is told of the existence of a secret notebook belonging to Josef Stalin, and then in true Indiana Jones style becomes determined to find the evidence. Led into the frozen forests of Russia, the narrative provides Kelso with something more shocking than even he imagined. Having read the other reviews, I wouldn’t agree that the end of the book was all that weak but certainly agree it’s a well-paced and has a fair few twists to keep the reader enthralled.
Robert Harris has also written Enigma (recently made into a blockbuster film) and Fatherland (a fantastic alternative history about a murder investigation in post-war Germany, where the war was won by Germany). All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book – an original idea written really well. Probably not the best book Harris has written in my view (hint: read Fatherland), but definitely worth reading.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great plot great story 23 July 2006
This book is particularly good because the main character is not the average hero. In fact Fluke Kelso is more of an anti hero which is a nice change to other American 'goody two shoes' Robert Langdon. Harris writes with a style that far surpasses many 'Thriller' writers I have read before ie. Dick Francis, Dan Brown, Robert goddard ,Andy McNab. As to the plot it just twists and turns with intresting surprises.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Harris's third history based novel, following Fatherland and Enigma is set in a modern day Russian struggling to come to terms with capatilist reforms. Harris' hero is Fluke Kelso, a somewhat down at heel Russian history expert. Fluke stumbles across some secret papers said to be a diary kept by Joseph Stalin himself. This startling find leads Fluke to the northern Russian city of Archangel and sets him face to face with an area of Russian history he had thought long since dead.
Fans of Harris' previous novels will enjoy this one, with it's well written insight into the recent past coupled with a enjoyable thriller. But personally, although I enjoyed the book I found the ending rather weak ( a reoccurance from the other novels) - the shocks weren't that shocking and the final twists and turns weren't really very exciting. The build up is well paced but the ending lacks that punch which makes a very good (four or five stars) thriller.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Quit heavy reading and lacks credabiliity
Published 3 days ago by Colin Malcolm Botfield
3.0 out of 5 stars Not very good
Not up to his usual standard
Published 10 days ago by John S
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great author for suspense
Published 10 days ago by ejj
5.0 out of 5 stars high quality work and this is also a great book.
Anything by Robert Harris is readable , high quality work and this is also a great book.
Published 11 days ago by MGRansom
4.0 out of 5 stars Russia
You could believe it could have happened. A little chilling, and not just the area it was set in. The Russian characters have a ring about them
Published 1 month ago by ISOK
2.0 out of 5 stars Not at all up to Harris's usual standards - very disappointing
As a huge fan of Robert Harris's other works, notably Fatherland, I had high hopes for Archangel.

What a let down it was from the start. Such a slow plot. Read more
Published 3 months ago by David Bowman
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good read
Thoroughly enjoyed this book…to the extent that I have now bought Fatherland! I didn't think it was as good as "An Officer and a Spy" which I thought was exceptional. Read more
Published 3 months ago by A "crap"Golfer
5.0 out of 5 stars One of his best!
Robert Harris is always worth reading, but I think this is without doubt one of his best. Using all the known facts about the Alfred Dreyfus case (1895-1906), he has constructed a... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Suzie Q
5.0 out of 5 stars incredible
Staggeringly scripted and hard to put down, the best read for years. A good recommend from a good friend, thank you.
Published 5 months ago by Bryn Robertson
4.0 out of 5 stars racy to the end
Wonderful but it finished so so suddenly!
Every emotion is in this book from fear to excitement and the story unfolds making fiction fact
Published 5 months ago by euthenia
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