I didn't pick this book because I am into spy thrillers, but rather because I'm interested in both the history of Eastern Europe and World War II, and in that respect Night Soldiers did not disappoint. A sweeping account of the pre-war and war years seen through the eyes of a rebel Bulgarian, Khristo.
As a novel, however, I found it unsatisfactory in a number of ways. The pacing is very slow for a thriller, and the book is overlong. The principal character, Khristo, has seen his brother murdered, his belief in Communism shattered, and is in fear of his life from the Soviet secret service. And yet, really, he is quite a bland character. The author does not get inside this man's head to the extent that he could have done and make us really care about him and what happens to him. Minor characters are not well used - appearing long enough to make the reader interested in them, then disappearing again without explanation.
There is no real central plot; the book is really a chronicle of Khristo's life during these formative years, and that doesn't a page-turner make. I found the dialogue dull and uninspired - although that may be because the writer was trying to convey the impression that the characters are not speaking in English and avoided idiomatic English in dialogue for that reason.
On the plus side, I did like the narrative style. The author's diction is concise, never clunky, and with many a quirky and memorable turn of phrase.