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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars18
3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 15 April 2014
What a let down. Simply can't believe some of my favourite writers really thought this was such a good novel. Unbelievable, poorly written and extremely tedious. And after all the intrigue the story was wrapped and tied up within a couple of pages! Ridiculous. Don't waste your time just read Le Carre, or Kerr or Nesbo.
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on 26 April 2015
A sleeper agent in deep cover meets a Chinese girl he assumes to be an enemy honeytrap, but who may actually be a passing Chinese girl. This sort of double description applies to most of the characters, in a le Carré-esque series of wheels within wheels, friends turn out to be enemies who are really working for other friends.

There’s some lovely stuff in here about modern tradecraft (McCarry claims to be ex-CIA), and comments like “demonstrative suspicion is out of fashion,” displaying a deep understanding of the way things are in China at the moment. Also some top tips, such as the use of “archaic” punctuation as a clue that the following sentence will be true. If at times, the motivations of the bad guys seemed ludicrously intricate, one only had to wait a chapter to discover that this was yet another bluff. I got to the end still not sure what happened – the actual espionage was going on an entire continent away, in Cairo, while the leading man was busy not-doing anything somewhere else.
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on 1 August 2013
It's inevitable on forums that all competent authors engaged in the espionage genre are compared with the peerless LeCarre'. LeCarre' plots are symmetrical and flawless. If your'e prepared to give The Shanghai Factor a few temporary suspensions of belief you will enjoy it.
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on 9 October 2015
Brilliant, atmospheric, a real spy novel. Charles McCarry really nails the deep routes of complexity, contradictions and fascination that characterize the relationship between the occidental and oriental. Lost its way a bit at the end.
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So an unnamed junior American spy is sent, alone, to Shanghai on a mission to infiltrate the Chinese intelligence machine. He speaks only rudimentary Chinese (though it improves whenever the plot requires it) and he can't understand the Shanghainese dialect. He has no obvious income or reason to have been granted a Chinese visa. He happens to bump into a Chinese agent, literally, whom he immediately identifies as such and they fall into bed.

It could happen, I suppose...

Couldn't it?

The writing is awful - words of one syllable with no nuance. There is no attempt to use a plausible voice; for example the lead character refers to himself as a spy. He has a one track mind with his brains in his trousers. Classy. The author seems to have no understanding of the intelligence community, the way it works or the people who work within it. There is no understanding of politicis, either of the international or the office variety. The Shanghai Factor might work as a comic novel if only it didn;t take itself quite so seriously.

Avoid.
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on 20 September 2013
One very good read, very hard to put down, wake up to to thinking about the plot and the possible out come ( excellent)
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on 5 October 2013
Whilst not as good as his earliest books - The Tears of Autumn and The Miernick Dossier are truly 5* - I enjoyed this very much. I thought the corrupt, secretive Chinese state was brought out very well indeed and I hope that other writers will move to this new 'geographic battleground' .
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To be honest with you I was expecting something pretty solid in this spy thriller from Charles McCarry as I've loved a lot of the books that Head of Zeus have sent me, however whilst this was set up to be a cracking spy thriller set in China, it was a story that felt more like something written in the past rather than a modern story as I felt that the female characters were not only there as a distraction rather than characters in their own right.

They were flat, they were little more than a sexual diversion and to be honest it left me feeling more than flat at the overall book. Don't get me wrong, there were some moments of brilliance within, the description worked wonderfully and when added to some of the quick twists did work well, however all round, I was left feeling more than a little underwhelmed at the overall book.
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on 22 March 2016
The novel is typical of CA operations.
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on 17 July 2013
Weak characterization , superficial presentation of Chinese elements and frankly totally unbelievable relationship with his "boss" all lead to an unsatisfactorily fabricated conclusion. Comparisons to Le Carre etc are completely misplaced.
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