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on 4 January 2012
I hadn't read anything by Thomas H. Cook before so I tried this book because it was in the 12 Days of Kindle sale. It was totally engrossing and I particularly enjoyed the way the story was gradually unwrapped, unpeeling layer after layer and demolishing preconceptions. Right up to the end, I didn't know what the quest for the true Anna would reveal. The wartime background, the elements of espionage, the forays into Germany and Russia all appealed to me and I found the method of narration clever. A very well written book which will make me look out for this author again.
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Thomas H. Cook is a consistently good author and this is another great novel from him. Post 9/11 Paul Crane, from an American think tank, is sent to interview Thomas Jefferson Danforth, an elderly intelligence officer. Paul is full of anger about what has happened in his city and, at first, is impatient with Danforth's story as it unwinds slowly. This story ranges from 1939 until the present and encompasses Berlin, London, France, Russia, New York and many places in-between. It tells the tale of Danforth's life as a young man and his being approached before America even entered WWII to help with a 'Project'. At first, his involvement is peripheral, merely to give a safe place and a cover identity for the training of an agent called Anna Klein. However, gradually, Anna becomes important to Danforth and he accompanies her to Europe.

What follows is a tale of Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and encompasses meeting Hitler, the gulags and the work of spies. Mostly, it is a tale of revenge, of love and loss and bitterness. As Paul is to find, revenge is no new emotion and the tale, which seemed irrelevant to a young, impatient man, teaches him much about himself. This is a wonderful novel from a great author, who deserves more recognition in this country than he currently receives.
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on 6 January 2012
I have been reading Thomas H. Cook for the past eight years and every novel he has written is sublime. He is never frightened to take risks and the high quality of his writing always shows a master at his craft. If you haven't read Cook then start with this, his latest title. And if you like it - and I am sure you will, then pick up 'Red Leaves' and/or 'The Interrogation'. I am sure, like me you will be converted and become a fan of this great man's work.
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on 30 January 2012
This book covers a lot of ground - in time, between the present and the past from the build-up to WWII forwards, and in geography between New York, pre- and post-war Europe, Eastern Europe and further. The narrative switches backwards and forwards between the present, when the story is being told, and the past. This device works very well and gives the tale context. The plot constantly twists and turns as it follows the main character's quest. The story is constantly engrossing and the plot keeps you on edge until the very end. I guess one would call it a spy story but one with a difference. Very enjoyable.
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on 15 December 2013
I finished this book yesterday, and am still reeling - but don't be mistaken - this isn't one of those books that mercilessly pulls on your heart strings and brazenly attempts to make you fall victim. No, this is a rare literary find, a story that feels brutally honest, full of intrigue and poignancy, with layer upon layer of twists and turns you can't possibly predict. This is the first book by Thomas H Cook I have read, and I will certainly be reading many more.

The story in brief: Paul Crane, a young man working for a foreign affairs think tank, is invited by Thomas Jefferson Danforth to hear his story of WWII and its aftermath, on the premise that he may be able to provide valuable insight into the horrors of 9/11. Danforth, now in his nineties, begins his story when he was a young man in 1939, and became involved in an American espionage and sabotage `Project' in Europe.

The key person in this `project' is Anna Klein, a mysterious young woman who can speak at least nine different languages, and whose resolve and steel in the face of adversity is apparently unbreakable. Danforth finds himself increasingly falling under Anna's spell, and when suddenly their cover is blown and the pair are separated, learning Anna Klein's fate becomes Danforth's life-long obsession - and so the Quest for Anna Klein begins.

At every stage of Danforth's quest he faces both physical and psychological peril; he must question everything he thought he knew to be true about Anna, learn the horrors of the depths of human depravity and betrayal. In telling his story Danforth is brutally honest, as his quest for Anna leads him to seek the true meaning of innocence and to understand the need for revenge.

A story masterfully told, intelligent literary excellence - I recommend it to everyone.
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on 2 January 2013
I have read and thoroughly enjoyed every one of Thomas H. Cook's books and this one is up there with the best of them. However, unless I re-read it from the beginning, I just cannot place the character revealed on the very last page, line 6, in my paperback version. I don't want to spoil the ending for any future reader of this book, but could someone please give me an idea of what chapter to re-read in order to place just where this character was mentioned?
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on 12 April 2012
As this was bought for 99p in the 12 days of Kindle Sale was dubious that this book would be worth reading. What a very pleasant surprise. Engaging espionage tale which keeps the reader guessing all the way through as plot is revealed. Narrative in present day post 9/11 USA interspersed with flash backs to 1939, WWI and Cold War is well done, as is the historical detail. Will definitely be looking for other books from this author as this one was a real gem.
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on 19 January 2012
This is a truly fantastic novel from a brilliant crime writer. By turns a saga and a war tale, the repetition of different perspectives and time settings only adds to the atmosphere created by this master. I bought this in the 12 days of Kindle sale and am so glad I did. Definitely worth the price.
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on 23 January 2012
thoroughly absorbing spy novel written in flashback and flash-forward. historical details are woven into the tale and these add a sense of truth and realism. one of the best novels about the Cold War i have read.
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on 4 August 2013
A great thriller, with many twists and turns to keep you guessing! Loved the past and present mode of story telling. Would suit people who loved intrigue.
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