14 May 2015.
It is impossible to exaggerate the thrills of this book, it has a fast moving style which leaves the reader breathless and, sometimes, in need of a temporary break from reading! The story begins in 1915 with Christopher Cobb, American war correspondent, following a suspect German secret service agent to England on the Lusitania. Cobb has been recruited into secret service activity for the U.S. Government. On this fateful voyage he meets a famous actress, Selene Bourgani, who proves to be another player in the game of spying, Cobb is greatly attracted to her. Cobb, Selene and Brauer, the suspect agent, escape from the boat and travel to London.
Cobb has to evaluate the motives of those embroiled in this deadly conflict and must decide who is fully friend or foe - never an easy task. His cover as a newspaper man is helpful but he cannot escape the suspicions of the Germans. The 3 set off for Istanbul - Selene and Brauer together and Cobb in careful pursuit. The journey to Istanbul and their sojourn there prove to be fraught with dangers. Cobb has to decide exactly where his sympathies lie and exactly who he faces.
The historical background here is impeccable. London under a Zeppelin attack contrasts to Cobb's consumption of a 17 course gourmet meal prepared by the famous Escoffier at the Carlton Hotel. Istanbul is the destination of the adventurers and its contrasts are fully described.
The twists and turns of the plot are equally well delivered.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
Robert Olen Butler is a Pulitzer-winning novelist who has written several stories about newspaperman Cobb beginning with The Hot Country.