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The Company of Strangers

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  848 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
The stifling summer streets of Lisbon are teeming with spies and informers when Andrea Aspinall, an English mathematician turned spy, disappears under a new identity. Military attaché Karl Voss, experienced in the illusions of intrigue, arrives in Lisbon under the German Legation, though he is secretly working against the Nazis so that atomic and rocket technology do not f ...more
Paperback, 481 pages
Published November 1st 2002 by Mariner Books (first published 2001)
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J.P. Lane
Sep 07, 2014 J.P. Lane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book cost me $2 for the paperback and a lot of hours of sleep. I couldn't put it down. I dislike having to resort to what another reviewer has said, but I'm in complete agreement with the Los Angeles Times: "Absorbing and brilliantly written, this is caviar for the cognoscenti." But the appeal went way beyond that for me. This book isn't only a brilliant portrayal of the spy era, it captured my emotions and had them in its grip right until the end. When I came to the end, I sat with the boo ...more
Jul 04, 2013 Charles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished I think all of Robert Wilson's books. company of Strangers took me to the gripping quality of Blind Man of Seville and the Javier Falcon series. Don't know what it is as I've had a remarkably unremarkably comfortable life but Wilson awakens fascinating dark places in this, among his best work. Among the many good things about Wilson's work --- you can start almost anywhere. Thank you Robert.
Alexis Ahotep
Oct 08, 2016 Alexis Ahotep rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Uma bela revelação.

"Eu sei que nem foi um dia (...) mas conheço-te. Não estou sozinho. Soou estúpido (...) mas foi a coisa mais importante que tive estes anos todos, ter tido alguém.
o terror súbito de o avião cair e eu morrer na companhia de Estranhos...sem ninguém que me conhecesse, que me tivesse amor.
Benjamin baschinsky
Just couldn't get into it second book by this author I
Oct 30, 2008 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this thriller was like reading two separate books inexpertly stitched together. In the first half, a young English student is recruited by her country's secret service and sent to Portugal in 1944 for the purpose of espionage, although her exact assignment is not exactly explained. There, she falls in love at first sight, or rather at first grip, with a German diplomat who turns out to be a double-agent involved in an assassination attempt against Hitler. This part of the book is masterl ...more
May 10, 2014 Fran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did not know what I was getting into when I started this book. It was given to me and I was told "it's a good book". Yes, it is! It is not my genre. I am not into spies, double agents, espionage, etc...;however, if that is your forte "The Company of Strangers" is a must. Starting in the 1940s and ending in the 90s the writer keeps it interesting and pacts a lot of adventure into this book. I must admit it was confusing at time, the writer used too many street names, foreign cities that were di ...more
Mar 11, 2015 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read the ARC. One of the locales of this book of World War II intrigue and romance is one of my favorite cities so I am biased from the start. Anything involving Lisboa will get my attention quick quick. How does a young English woman become involved with Germans in Lisboa? Is it wise to fall in love during such turbulent times? Are spies as romantic as we are lead to believe? Not as strong as his 'The Blind Man of Seville' but well worth the read.
Marianne Søiland
Jeg var overlykkelig over å ha funnet ei bok som på papiret hørtes ut som en Le Carré look-alike. Jeg simpelten elsket spionthrillere på 80-tallet. Jeg ble imidlertid noe skuffet. Det er ikke tvil om at dette er en velskrevet bok. Hva som er mer tvilsomt er om den er spesielt interessant eller engasjerende. Starten var veldig lovende, hvor vi ble introdusert til Andrea og Karl Voss og motivasjonen deres til å bli spioner for eget land. Men så stoppet det på en måte opp, og fremdriften gikk sener ...more
Nov 20, 2015 Brenda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Morgan Prager, a masters student at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has been working on her thesis exploring the idea that identifying what makes a victim could help change the definition of a predator. To that end she has been working on a creating a test that would identify victims whose extreme selflessness and hyper-empathy attracts predators. Her recent attendance at a lecture regarding battered wife syndrome had been so stimulating that it had made her want to redouble her effort ...more
Toni Osborne
Feb 08, 2009 Toni Osborne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is the life of Karl Voss and Andrea Aspinall from the time of WW11

In 1943, Captain Karl Voss a young officer in the Abwehr (the German military intelligence organization) is recruited by disillusioned Army officers to become a double agent- posing as an enemy of the Nazi state, but remain loyal to Germany. His job is to go to Lisbon as the German Legations military attaché and security officer; once there, trade Intelligence with the British and the Russians.

Twenty year old Andrea Aspi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The company of strangers is a thriller about espionage, double agents, etc. from 1944 World War II "neutral" Portugal through the Salazar fascist regime, Eastern Germany in during the communist regime until the ending in the late 1980's after the fall of the wall.
It's also a love story about two people who fall in love in Lisbon, a love affair that only lasts two weeks but determines the rest of their lives.

Wilson's descriptions of Lisbon and Berlin are superb. The passcodes and literary quotati
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 02, 2015 Melanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Company Strangers is a spy-thriller set during World War 2. A young woman is approached to take on a new identity in a different country, and gather information. But the setting is dangerous, and the people even more so. However, she finds friends in some of the most unlikely places.
I once picked up a paperback copy of this book, and I'm very glad that I did. This is one of my all-time favorite stories...I've read it twice, myself.
Robert Wilson makes it feel as if you are actually there as
Robert Wilson's Company of Strangers, which deals with the fall-out from a 1944 love affair between a young woman who's an English spy and a young man who's a German double agent. Their affair, which lasts for two weeks, has repercussions that echo through both of their lives until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and although the novel isn't quite as good as Wilson's A Small Death in Lisbon (which deals with the export of Nazi gold through Portugal and how that ties into a current-day murder ...more
Feb 03, 2015 Shelly rated it liked it
There are three "books" in this novel. Book One is excellent - 5 stars - full of suspense, with a vivid sense of place and interesting characters. Book Two is a slog-fest, until the very end. The sense of place is gone, the characters are bogged down and so is the story. Book Three shows a bit more promise - we return to Lisbon so that sense of place is back - but the ending, while realistic, is terrible. I've come away with a foul taste in my mouth, all the promise and excitement from book one ...more
Dec 18, 2015 Cass rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first part of this book, while not without its flaws, was well-executed and well-done, and a real page-turner. The rest? Not so much. It felt to me like the author had done so much previous work on the latter aspects of the book that writing it here in this book bored him and though he had a great plan for it all, it fell flat because he hurried to finish it in such a rush to curb his own boredom.

But I'm just speaking from experience, here, not cold, hard fact.

Which is ironic, considering th
Aug 28, 2016 matteo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wilson's writing is a cut above most of the historical fiction/spy thriller novels that I have read. To say that the stories are sprawling is an understatement. This one covers roughly 50 years, from the 1930s to the late 1980s. As with A Small Death in Lisbon, Wilson weaves multiple story lines that take a while to come together--I was more expecting the payoff this time around, so it was not as surprising. I don't know much about Lisbon, but the elaborate plot really sets the scene of the time ...more
John Treanor
Sep 10, 2011 John Treanor rated it really liked it
Excellent. Kind of a sleeper, as at the half way point I thought "where is this thing going?" and "should I bother going with it?", as it leapt ahead 20+ years in time. Where it was going was right into the heart of cold-war London and Berlin. Going from a fairly tepid pace (appropriate for Lisbon) into the fun-house mirror tension and confusion that was the Cold War, replete with double-agents and treachery. Good stuff. Maybe not a 4-star worthy book, but a strong 3.5.
Jan 24, 2014 John rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this classic spy novel following an English woman who is pulled into espionage in WWII, then returning to the trade in the cold war. The "strangers" part means that in this business, one does not really know anyone (although you can still find love). Just a side note, but not a scene goes by without everyone lighting up a smoke; almost expected to see it curling out of the pages :)
Sep 02, 2016 Roger rated it really liked it
MILD SPOILER. Agents and double agents in an intricately constructed story that spans decades and involves complex relationships amongst the characters. I can't quite decide whether the bittersweet ending was inevitable or a mild disappointment.
3.5 stars

You know how I love espionage, don't you? This filled that need this month. A love story betwixt a sort-of Nazi and a sort-of English spy. Murders, secret letters, unknowns. Very LeCarre. Sad. Good enough that I bought another Wilson (the one I think I had heard of first, not connected to this one except by author) and have it waiting in the wings.
Sep 25, 2014 Mementomori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A captivating spy thriller set across 30 years, with a shocking ending. I was interested from the start, it kept my attention, and the author captured the feel and atmosphere of WWII, and Cold War Berlin well. I'll be reading more from Wilson. Also makes me wonder again, how close the Nazi's were to a radioactive 'dirty bomb' warhead for their V bombs to England.
Aug 21, 2015 Kyra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Old war, Cold War, cold hearts, cold-blooded killers, this well-written book is peopled with equally cold characters and an utterly baffling plot. Oh well, so glad I was not a spy. The only hot aspect of this book is the endless chain-smoking indulged in by the cold cold characters. Enough to make you want to quit.
Jul 23, 2014 Hans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice reference (I think) to Andrea Camilleri's The Terracotta Dog:
"you know what this looks like to me?"...
"The way the bodies are positioned, with the dog at their feet, and the fact that he's holding her hand".
"... It looks like a tomb... You know, the knight in armour and his lady wife".
"You're right, ... and they always got those little dogs at their feet."
Annie Modesitt
The story was interesting, but the confused and rather convoluted style made comprehension difficult.

I don't *think* I'm unintelligent, but I found myself re-reading passages because they just didn't make sense to me.

In the end, when the book was finished, I kept forgetting whether I'd finished it or not for a few days. I don't think that's a great sign.
Darrell Kastin
A good read. It was quite suspenseful and I liked the characters, as well as the historical information and the setting. I was however somewhat let down by the ending. Still, pretty chilling. And nicely written.
Feb 03, 2016 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
A complicated and compelling read. I thought the story and writing was better than his previous work, A Small Death in Lisbon, which I liked too. Not a "The Good Guys Win" story so don't expect that - but rather a lifetime-spanning mystery.
Jul 30, 2014 Adonis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great read through the life of a young woman and everything she had to go through.
Makes you realize how short life can be.
Also shows you how dark the world used to be.

Wasn't really happy with the way the book ended! But it's just personal preference.
A must read.
Sep 01, 2014 Harry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A young Andrea of London is sent to Lisbon in 1944 to sink or swim in the dangerous game of the spy. Instead of going down for the third time, she comes out an Olympic champion. A very intriguing use of Historical novel, thriller and love story.
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Robert Wilson has written thirteen novels including the Bruce Medway noir series set in West Africa and two Lisbon books with WW2 settings the first of which, A Small Death in Lisbon, won the CWA Gold Dagger in 1999 and the International Deutsche Krimi prize in 2003. He has written four psychological crime novels set in Seville, with his Spanish detective, Javier Falcón. Two of these books (The Bl ...more
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