Friday, December 27, 2013

The Star of Istanbul. Robert Olen Butler, 2013

This untalented book is marketed as a historical thriller. It does not offer a single thrill unfortunately. No matter how hard the author tries to create "atmosphere" or be historically accurate, no matter how many times he uses words like "Hun", "swell", or "aft" - everything from plot to bottom rings fake. I wish the writer had a sense of humor because the novel could become a good parody. The action takes place during WW I and the main character, a journalist and American spy, engages in endless pursuits of two German spies while wearing ridiculous disguises. This constant "following" constitutes the bulk of the novel while most of the time the reasons for the following escape us. The love subplot between the journalist and one of the German spies, a world-famous film star, who eventually turns out to be an Armenian, on a mission to kill Enver Pasha, is an awful unimaginative cliche. The love scenes start with "we started" and end with "we were done" with a couple of tasteless sentences tucked in between...And no, the hero is nothing like Eric Ambler's journalist character.

This author has a passion for unnecessary detail and has filled almost 400 pages with that. He is also a Pulitzer Prize winner with 14 books under his belt and teaches creative writing...

A lot of paper has gone into that book. Can't they have something like "straight to e-book"policy for this kind of work...


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