Jerry's Reviews > Archangel

Archangel by Robert Harris
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Jul 20, 10

Read in January, 2004

Clever Soviet thriller blends fact and fiction re Stalin...

It's clear that former BBC correspondent Harris either knows or has researched a great deal about Russia: from the life and deeds, many horrible enough to compare to Hitler, of Joseph Stalin, to the modern day "replacement nation" that forms the former Soviet Union. When Fluke Kelso, a Brit historian specializing in Stalin travels to Moscow to attend a minor conference, he gets a tip that encourages him to hunt for the oft rumored lost notebooks in which Stalin supposedly detailed his everyday endeavors. Soon a suspenseful race against the modern day secret police, hardly above brutality themselves given the prize at stake, leads Kelso on a wild chase to find either the notebooks, or could it be, Stalin's lover or her offspring. The tipster's daughter eventually gets involved, much against her wishes, and contributes a great deal to the dazzlingly ironic ending to an incredibly chilling and thrilling story line.

Harris demonstrates not merely a command of his subject matter but a knack for writing action scenes that keeps the pages turning quickly. On half a dozen occasions, we found our leading characters twisting into new scenarios just when we felt that neither they nor we could stand any more tension and suspense. Once you get by the strange place and person names, and can keep the roster of characters straight, Archangel becomes a highly entertaining, satisfying story sure to please almost any reader, let alone those with a bent for historical fiction. Enjoy!

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