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The Double Game Paperback – 1 Apr 2013
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A tantalizing, timely thriller * Washington Post * A thought-provoking and exciting read * Observer * One of the best writers of intelligent thrillers based on contemporary events working today...observant, thoughtful, witty * Baltimore Sun * A new book by Dan Fesperman is becoming a major literary event . . . an utterly compelling thriller and quite simply the best I've read all year. * Sunday Telegraph * Fesperman is the closest thing America has to John le Carre, a writer of great elegance and sophistication whose novels are as topical as they are compelling. * Bookseller *
A thrillingly inventive novel about spies and their secrets, fathers and sons, lovers and fate, and duplicity and loyalty - a wonderful maze of intrigue built from the espionage classics of the Cold War.
'The Double Game is not just a spy novel - it's a love letter to the genre...cleverly woven into a thrilling story. Brilliantly executed and a joy from start to finish.' -Olen Steinhauer, author of An American SpySee all Product description
Top customer reviews
"The Double Game" is a personal spy story blended with historical spy stories. And with real-life spies. The reader might not know who's who and Fesperson includes an appendix at the end of the book, which gives a list of novels. Most of the books are real, BUT, several are by "Edwin Lemaster", a fictional figure in Fesperson's novel!
"Game" is set in Washington, Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, and Block Island. Beginning in 1984, when author Bill Cage, interviews Ed Lemaster, one of the most famous spy novelist who has murky connections within the US intelligence community. Actually, everyone in the story seems to have murky connections, including 10 year old Bill Cage, who may, or may not, have been used to gather intelligence for his father in their eastern European capitals where the father was stationed in the 1960's. There's no way to really discuss the plot of this book, which goes to current day, 2010, with any degree of coherence. Actually, the plot IS coherent; and is actually great fun to read. The characters - Bill Cage, his father - retired Foreign Service officer, and an old girlfriend of Bill's - along with a whole bunch of really mysterious people, both fictional and real, together comprise a "story within a story within a story". For the "right" reader - and there are many out there - Fesperson's "The Double Game" will be an intriguing and interesting look at history and those with "murky connections" who made it so. Both "real" and fictional.
The story follows a divorced, 50ish journalist who is drawn deeply into a web of Cold War-era secrets. Someone using passages (actually pages) from real-life spy thrillers has goaded him into retracing the stations of an old spy network in Vienna/Prague/Budapest/Berlin, one that may or may not be connected to a man who went on to become a bestselling author (kind of an American Le Carré), who himself might have been a spy himself back in the '60s, and possibly a double-agent working for the Soviets. It's all pretty convoluted, and about halfway through the book, there's a passage which gives a little summary, for those struggling to keep up: "I seem to be tracking an informational trail for some sort of courier network set up by [the author] back in the sixties, when he was an operative, on behalf of source code-named Dewey, who may or may not have been known to, or even used by, the KGB." This highlights another of the book's problems, as the journalist pokes into the past, there's not a lot of meaning for the present and the stakes just don't seem that large relative to the effort being undertaken.
Some elements of the book are based on real people and events, and of course, there is plenty of detail about the locations. However, neither exotic old-Europe cities, nor the cut and thrust of the retracing of the old spy network can make up for the fact that the hero is just kind of flat on the page. The author is trying to set up a kind of Hitchcockian everyman type (a la The Man Who Knew too Much), but it never really sparks, not even when he is reunited with his teenage flame. And while I appreciate the device of using classic espionage books -- a number of which I've read -- as part of the riddle, it feels more like the author amusing himself than something organic to the story. In the end, I can't really imagine anyone besides hardcore espionage fiction enthusiasts caring very much for this.
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