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on 30 September 2015
After reading the 'Station' series I was expecting something better than this. No atmosphere and very reminiscent of "and with one leap he was free" writing. Nothing like the 'Station' stories where the atmosphere forced the reader to turn the page and pray it all turns out well. The author needs to do some serious editing before he writes any more in this vein. I am surprised the publishers allowed it to go to print in this format. Very very disappointing.
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on 29 December 2014
Nowhere near as good as his "Station" series.

This could be the start of another interesting series - pre-World War One leading into his spying during the war. But this first volume doesn't really work. Why?

Firstly, there are simply too many locations and plot lines thrown in together. None are really fully explored and the links between them seem tenuous. China and Shanghai would have made an interesting story. Mexico could have been expanded or the Irish dimension. Throw them all together and add America's West and East coasts and you are left with an undeveloped hodge podge.

Secondly, the characters are undistinguished. The hero is a bit boys own paper, amateur adventurer who somehow gets the girl after she propositions him.

Finaly there are the romantic interludes which involve little romance and lots of disapearances into hotel rooms with no real sex.

This could have been two or three good novels and interesting stories but all lumped together it doesnt really work.
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on 23 December 2017
I'm reading and enjoying this at the moment but I agree with others it's not as good as the station series. I love his descriptions of China. It's an unusual time to write about and I like Jack. Hoping the series gets better.
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on 1 November 2015
Excellent new series from Downing, though without the (for me) more compelling setting of WWII Europe. The Irish connection is interesting, and the pan-American train ride an amusing prequel to Bond, perhaps?
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on 12 July 2014
It was an enjoyable book but not what I would call riveting, it took you along at a gentle pace which in a way was in keeping with the time/era that the book itself was set in.
Would I purchase another of his books I'm really not sure?
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on 12 February 2018
Not read this yet, but from what I've read it's going to be most enjoyable.
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on 17 July 2014
I have read all his other novels and found this one just as brilliant. The research gone into by Mr Downing must have been incredible. The 'zoo' were great but can't wait for the next instalment of this series. Thank you very much. Clive B
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on 20 January 2014
Interesting novel capturing elements of the start of modern espionage. Real charactors, 'C' as head of fledging MI6 for example and people involved in the Irish independence struggle at the time were woven into it. Problems of 'ungentlemanly' conduct were explored. It was possible to empathise with the hero.
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on 3 August 2015
I do not understand why some criticize the events in the book, yes it moves from one continent to another but in no way does that detract from the story, have they never read an Ian Fleming novel, buy the book you will not be disappointed.
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on 23 October 2014
Having read all of David Downing's "Stations" books, which were all brilliant . .. I wondered if he could match those previous stories. He has done a remarkable book, once again, and his in depth research and knowledge , makes him an exceptional writer and this is an exceptional book.
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