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Pantheon Hardcover – 16 Feb 2012

3.2 out of 5 stars 97 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st edition (16 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007413637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007413638
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.7 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 487,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


***** ‘Shifting his focus from hi-tech present day conspiracies to a very dark chapter of the second world war, Bourne has proved he can more than rub shoulders with the likes of John Le Carre and Robert Harris.’ Mirror

‘Pantheon is a propulsive, satisfying novel which burns with moral indignation, earning Bourne his place at the thriller-writers' high table.’ Guardian

‘Ingeniously constructed … a page-turner which maintains the tension’ Observer

‘An intelligent thriller with a vividly drawn wartime atmosphere’ Independent

‘A compelling story that combines the personal traumas of war, its headline dramas and the tragic tension that can arise between them. A disturbing delight.’ A D Miller, author of SNOWDROPS

About the Author

Sam Bourne is the pseudonym of Jonathan Freedland, an award-winning journalist and broadcaster. He has written a weekly column for the Guardian since 1997, having previously served as the paper’s Washington correspondent, and presents Radio 4’s contemporary history programme, The Long View.

In the annual What the Papers Say Awards of 2002 Jonathan Freedland was named Columnist of the Year, and in 2008 he won the David Watt Prize for Journalism. His first novel, The Righteous Men, was a Sunday Times Number 1 bestseller. His subsequent novels have all been top five bestsellers. He lives in London with his wife and their two children.

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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've read and enjoyed all of Sam Bourne's previous offerings but I came close to giving up on this one.

I disliked it for the writing style - plodding and tedious, with way too much scene-setting in the first half of the book. Perhaps an equal reason for my dislike was the protagonist, James Zennor. Okay, I understand that he was badly wounded in the Spanish civil war and that he's suffering from what we'd now call PTSD but I was completely unable to empathise with him. To me, the character came over as thoroughly unpleasant, arrogant and obnoxious and, in real life, any sensible wife would have left him.

Although the author has done a huge amount of research into events surrounding his main plotline, it's a pity that nobody in the editorial team picked up on a couple of really silly errors. There was no "first class stamp" in England in 1940. First- and 2nd-class postal services were introduced in 1968. Additionally, it is extremely unlikely that Zennor would have seen container ships in the Port of Liverpool in 1940. Containerisation as we understand it today did not arrive until the 1950s.

I read to the end, hoping the book would get better and hoping for a twist in the tail. Neither wish was granted. Ho hum. Sorry but I can't recommend this to anybody for any reason.
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Format: Hardcover
My first Sam Bourne, taken out of the library because I heard the author being interviewed on the radio and liked the plot idea.

It's terrible. Boring, rambling, pages and pages of exposition, suddenly interspersed with about three lines of action, all of it incredible.

Phone call to Master of Oxford College (a man who 'knows everybody') 'I need a passage across the Atlantic in 1941 and if you don't get one for me, I'll tell everybody about your pregnant mistress.' My, my, that's original. And is the Master a ticket agent?

It goes on like this with an increasingly dislikeable and ludicrous protagonist lurching about all over the place doing nothing of interest other than find potential nuggets of truth which he reduces to trivia.

Terrible. And what makes it worse is that it's badly written for which there is no excuse at all as the writer is an excellent journalist. Don't bother if you haven't already bought it. Or, if you're an aspiring writer, have a look and be appalled.
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By Susman VINE VOICE on 5 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Our main protagonist is, in this narrative, Oxford don James Zennor, who has survived the Spanish Civil war, but at the cost of psychological trauma and injury. 1940 Britain seems on the brink of defeat by the Nazi war machine - he tries to enlist only to be told he is unfit. While in love with his family he is also hot tempered, that he finds hard to control, to add to his woes his family has disappeared. So begins this mystery thriller, this being the fourth novel by author Sam Bourne. The characters and the iconography in this tale are well moulded; you get the taste and feel of society a bleak moment in history. However, the narrative is hampered by poor plot plays, where minor characters suddenly take centre stage and thus the timing then tells in the story serves only as a distraction. There are interesting nuggets of genuine intrigue and peppered here and there are good action sequences. The historical basis seems a bit suspect, but this can be said of many books in the same genre. Maybe I am being too critical but this novel seemed more of time filler or an impulse purchase one would make at the airport.
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Format: Paperback
I must agree with the other negative comments to a point; it is slow and labourious, and does have a lot of unnecessary 1930's style middle class pondering by the key character which does get tedious. It took me ages to read this; I kept putting it down and then resuming it again, all the time hoping that it would gather pace, but appart from a lame flurry in the closing chapters did not really take off.
Could not quite get to grips with the internal musings of the main character with regard to - amongst other things - his "rage;" the reasons for the 'wonderful' Florence leaving suddenly were not adequately explained and when an attempt was made to explain was not at all convincing; and I found the attempt to write as though this was coming from the mind/point of view of an upstanding, middle class well educated gentleman in the 1930's a bit contrived. He lacked depth and it was difficult to empathise with such a remote and at times unlikeable character. I found myself wishing that he would be arrested, and then deported back to the UK, thus leaving the impossibly 'wonderful' and 'beautiful' Florence to her fate in the US for having the audacity to leave with this small child in the first place. The 'by the way' references to the 'strange' foods - ie pizza's - was rather silly and not really in context.
Everything and everybody was so middle class, rich and posh that I just didnt care in the end what happened to any of them! The only time us mere mortals were mentioned was when the good Dr worked himself into a tiz thinking about those good working class fellows fighting the nazi menace for good old Blighty and the rest of the world.
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