- Hardcover: 300 pages
- Publisher: Arcadia Books (15 May 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1909807532
- ISBN-13: 978-1909807532
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 3.2 x 1.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 104 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 437,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Whitehall Mandarin Hardcover – 15 May 2014
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The thinking person s John Le Carré --Tribune
His annual political-spy thriller is now as much of a must-read as the annual Dick Francis in his heyday ... It is a good yarn, with lots of twists, accurate depictions of MI6 officers, and a real sense of Berlin and London at the time. It is as good a spy thriller as will be published this year ... intellectually commanding, but also has a mordant wit and poignancy --Independent
A glorious, seething broth of historical fact and old-fashioned spy story --The Times
About the Author
Born in Baltimore and now based in Suffolk, Edward Wilson is a highly acclaimed writer whose novels focus on espionage and the Cold War. Winning praise from the TLS as well as the Mail on Sunday, Wilson is a master of ambiguity who creates likable villains and detestable heroes. He uses his background as a scholar, soldier, and cosmopolitan expatriate to create authentic settings and verifiable plots.
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a sympathetic if slightly detached main character adds an authentic english post-war atmosphere of poverty, class, aspiration and a rather desperate hope in the future.
I enjoyed this book enormously ans will now llok out more by Edward wilson.
Despite the level of research the sixties setting never rang particularly true, although the author name-dropped the usual references. There were also periodic howlers, terms that were clearly far too modern for their period setting, English characters using Americanisms and the like. It might have been helpful if the author had just let more folk read over it before publication and if rather than applying contemporary slang he had just made up period slang, most folk would never know any better.
The author writes well, particularly about places that he knows. He has also brought together an ingenious plot and diverse mix of characters. However it is the ingenious plot that seems to take precedence, leaving the other elements feeling rather sketched in.
Wilson is clearly an author to watch out for. And this is certainly worth a read, but I feel that it misses absolute classic status by a small margin.
Perhaps my 5 stars indicate a diametrically opposed viewpoint?
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and can't wait for his next one.
It takes a while before you (for which read I) realise precisely which character is the mandarin in the title. In fact the author explicitly tells us. Maybe without that no one would have realised. It's very much the antithesis of James Bond - there isn't a lot of action and nothing happens for years - literally.
But it explains a great deal about those years. And of course it is all fiction. But it doesn't seem like it
It gets favourably compared with Le Carre, Furst, & Ambler and in parts it does stand up - but it also has passages which are totally unbelievable, Alice in Wonderland-like stuff that seems written by a total novice (The Fidel Castro meeting for example).
A lot of play on the 'hero' being called Catesby - I understand the historical point but can't see the relevance.
But I've read worse.
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