17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Company of Strangers (Paperback)
Author Robert Wilson has written 5 novels; unfortunately for readers this is only the second that has been offered The U.S. His debut, 'A Small Death Is Lisbon', was a very good book and was recognized with literary honors. 'The Company Of Strangers', elevates his work to an even higher level, which if he continues to maintain will place him amongst the great writers of espionage/thriller/mystery. For those unfamiliar with his work I believe the best comparison would be Mr. John LeCarre's earlier works, and some of the best that Mr. Robert Ludlum ever wrote. These are not techno-thrillers where plot and theme are replaced by endless descriptions of military hardware. Mr. Wilson writes detailed character studies that are as complex as the situations he places them in; when these aspects are combined with the talent to tell a great story that spans decades, this is an author who gives a reader all that can be expected from a great novel.
The time line will take you from London of WWII, to the dawning of Glasnost in The Soviet Union, with stops in Berlin East and West, Lisbon and other locales. The book is about spies, very human, not the 007 Hollywood varieties. The motivation of why they work for a cause or country, what may make them turn, and sometimes turn once again is beautifully written and marvelously complex. The writer explores what takes place when an agent during a war finds that the country he once served, or perhaps betrayed, once the war concludes is now in the enemy's camp. Who is his new master, who does he deceive this time if deception is the choice? Does an agent serving a foreign power that becomes the victor continue to serve, or are the ideals he thought were being served proving to have been a fraud and new choices are made?
The agents that take center stage in this book are all presented in various levels of detail, however none are vague. In the midst of the wild swings in world politics a variety of people have their beliefs confirmed, betrayed, and have their personal motives subjected to doubt. Do they spy as an act of revenge, a perceived wrong that was inflicted, is the spying based on theology, or is it monetary, or is it the game itself that is the attraction?
In addition to all that I have mentioned, there is much more, and there are few authors who could carry out the complexity of plot without it become cloudy, and he includes revelations that in most hands would be cliché© at best, and more than likely laughable.
'The Company Of Strangers', does not wind down as the end arrives. The author literally brings his story to the conclusion on the final page. Mr. Wilson also has not succumbed to churning out work and presenting it in a brief and incomplete manner. He takes all the time he needs, and if that requires the better part of 500 pages, that is what he uses. You have the sense that you are reading exactly what the writer intended. His goal was to produce a great book, not a shallow utilitarian read, written with an eye toward a screenplay, or any other secondary use.
This man is a brilliant writer; I recommend his work without condition.