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Friday, 19 February 2016
'The Empire of Night' by Robert Olen Butler
This is the second adventure of Christopher Cobb that I have read and I enjoyed it even more than the first one! He is an American newspaper man who is working in London, as the book begins, in 1915. The work as a reporter covers his real work as a spy for the British. He is investigating a suspect MP, Sir Albert Stockman. Sir Albert is of German blood and Christopher has to get close to him and does so by promoting his own phoney German blood as the character of American Joseph Hunter, previously Josef Jäger. Cobb has all the skills a spy needs - he can act a part and he speaks fluent German. His mission involves him in working with his mother, Isabel Cobb, who is a famous actress. His relationship with her is fraught with previous tensions.
The London of 1915 is subject to Zeppelin raids and their effect on the people of London is very well described. In pursuit of his mission Christopher has to go first to the Kent coast and then into Germany. His disguise must be maintained at all times if he wishes to survive. He must discover what Sir Albert's intentions are.
In Berlin and then in a more obscure part of Germany the historical background is beautifully described - again people's attitudes make a large part of the background. As in any spy novel decisions on who to trust and whether to continue trusting them proves to be of major importance. The reader is totally caught up in Cobb's mission and its eventual denouement.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
Robert Olen Butler has written many successful novels and short stories. The Christopher Cobb series has 2 other entries.
Robert Olen Butler was born 20 January 1945. He was educated at the University of Iowa. He has published twelve novels—The Alleys of Eden, Sun Dogs, Countrymen of Bones, On Distant Ground, Wabash, The Deuce, They Whisper, The Deep Green Sea, Mr. Spaceman, Fair Warning, and Hell. He is a Francis Eppes Distinguished Professor holding the Michael Shaara Chair in Creative Writing at Florida State University. Under the auspices of the FSU website, in the fall of 2001, he did something no other writer has ever done, before or since: he revealed his writing process in full, in real time, in a webcast that observed him in seventeen two-hour sessions write a literary short story from its first inspiration to its final polished form. He also gave a running commentary on his artistic choices and spent a half-hour in each episode answering the emailed questions of his live viewers. The whole series is a very popular download on iTunes under the title “Inside Creative Writing.”
He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the State University of New York system. Butler lives in Capps, Florida, which has a population of one. Not surprisingly, he was recently elected Mayor of Capps.
Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.