A book I was savoring it s that good.There are parallels to Graham Greene and John le Carre here of the former compared to the latter, with a bit of Jenkens thrown in The fantastic never happens, the predictable occurs and because this is a thriller you may hope it does not but the characters are so well rounded, so deeply camouflaged from themselves, as the Californians out there may say conflicted, that all the story and I mean all apart from solid history is character driven What a damn fine read.Nw, does it help that I ve hung around Istanbul Yes But not than having been around Berlin helps with John le Carre s work of a secret pleasure, confirming the sights and sounds, the feel of the city.I did miss smelling Istanbul something you cannot escape At one point he does describe the contents of the tide between the hull of a ship and the dock that s the smell that pervades most of the year But to be fair, this is written in winter so perhaps Kanon wasn t there in summer.It s not a big deal That s about the only criticism I have Pathetic at that. Hard to imagine any other setting for Kanon s historical thriller, Istanbul Passage Post World War II spy intrigues, war criminals seeking new friends, allegiances shifting yet again between America and Russia, battered Jews looking for refuge, illicit romance, the legacy of harems and the labyrinthine streets opening onto the wide waterway connecting two continents Where better than Istanbul to depict the mire of ambiguous compromises, the sinuous balancing of countries against each other by those too crafty to reveal themselves, the na ve light of idealism shadowing into something dingy but workable An ancient city that has known many masters and seen so much At one point a character in Kanon s book points out that the Westerners view Istanbul as a bridge between Europe and Asia, but for the Turks, and for the Ottomans in their day, it is the center, not a place to pass through That tension pervades the novel The plot revolves around characters seeking passage through Istanbul to escape horrors behind them, either of their own or others making Other characters strive to maintain Turkey s tenuous hold on living in the center The main character, Leon, may make a passage or he may join the centuries of tangled roots clinging to Istanbul In the process he makes a rite of passage through moral compromises and idealistic choices, betrayals and loyalties, that is so subtle and sophisticated the reader never loses interest.Leon, we hope along with him, is a good man at least an ordinary man like us who can rise to the occasion when called upon He s easy to identify with, but what a tangled mess he gets into without there being an identifiable moment that tripped him up We know we could have gotten there just as easily He clings to the notion of doing right but right for whom His country An adrenalin high Displaced Jews His wife During the war, spying and death were easy to justify, but what now Then there s Alexei Not a good man, not ever, we fear The classic bad guy, torturing Jews out of racial hatred, inherent badness, a man who kills without remorse Why should Leon help such a man Does he have information worth preserving Does every man deserve to live Does Leon find it impossible to be responsible for his death no reason than that fundamentally moral position Leon s most morally admirable friend tells him to turn Alexei over to his enemies who will kill him Then glimmers of some other sort of man show through as Kanon develops Alexei Do we feel sympathy for him Was there a time when he was good but that is past, or do men, like cities, carry their layers forever existent simultaneously It s a clich , but life is complicated Kanon excels at making us feel that in our bones Complicated, but also exciting Even the trees in Istanbul Passage tell the story along the Bosphorus the Judas trees will bloom again, flowers hiding the betrayals Is that enough to make life worth living This suspenseful, full bodied novel will hold you in a thoughtful embrace. It was only ok I was going on holiday to Istanbul and wanted something to read I thought this would be perfect a thriller le Carre style set in the very city I was visiting Well, I enjoyed the referneces to the Hagia Sophia and the Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent, the crossing of the Golden Horn and the fishermen on the Galata Bridge All that rang true I could not, however, get on board with Kanon s style of writing It read like a movie script, or should I say, a wannabe movie script There was dialogue than description which, in retrospect, was actually quite a good idea fast paced and exciting The way in which they spoke thoughoh dear short brusque sentences that lacked punctuation And it wasn t just one character who spoke like this, it was whole blimmin lot of them It really put me off I thought that the characters were all the same, I couldn t feel for them particularly, and I spent so much enegery psotitvely disliking the way in which they were portrayed through their conversation that I didn t have time to really get to grips with the plot What I did establish, however, was that there were elements of the exciting and mysterious about it It was fast paced and sometimes gripping Not really my cup of tea, but I can see how it would appeal to others. A John LeCarre wanna be, but the character is not as complex as George Smiley Not sure I even like the main character or his love interest The most compelling character is his brain addled wife, but, unfortunately she does little except provide a room for exposition How could an accidental spy be so good at what is portrayed in other books as a craft It kind of demeans the whole profession and makes it seem like any intelligent person could double deal, elude tails, create alibis, etc I didn t believe it.However, it is not a 1 star review because the author does create a compelling characterIstanbul after WWII I wanted to visit, study learn clearly the author loves the city Unfortunately, some scenes felt like they had been written so the movie rights could be sold, ie obvious and overwrought, and not believable.Wish I hadn t paid 13 for it, wish I hadn t stayed up at night to finish it hope against hope that the ending would justify the rest of the book , wish I d believed the 2 star reviewer. I m working on my own new novel set in Istanbul, also a thriller, so I am reading other books set there I was glad to learn about Joseph Kanon s Istanbul Passage He really captures the place, almost everyone has said But than that, his writing is smart, and engaging without being so action driven that it becomes predictable This book is not predictable I wasn t sure until the last paragraph or two what would be the protagonist s decision Without any spoiler, I can say that the scene where two guys are hanging on ropes over the side of a ship is one of the most exciting scenes I ve read for a long time. Istanbul, after the war, trying to remain a neutral territory becomes a hotbed of rumor and intelligence, filled with various countries agents and spies Jews are still trying to find a safe haven and escape from the racial bias that has followed them, even into this country Into this climate of tension and paranoia comes an ordinary man, Leon, who is asked to rise above his comfort level and perform a job What a horrible mess he soon finds himself involved in, because he is actually trapped in this city by the condition of his wife who is in a catatonic state and institutionalized At times I did feel that so many things were going on and that so many meetings were being arranged that certain conversations dragged Yet the book as a whole was extremely well done, interesting and the author s vivid descriptions of the city a complete joy to read. All right, I m officially a convert This is my first experience of Joseph Kanon, and it was well worth it If you are going to write about the morally ambiguous world of spycraft but also give readers someone to root for, you need an author who can create characters who may never be what they seem, yet have some endearing qualities even if, as in one case in this novel, they happen to be a former Nazi ally butcher of Jews The story revolves around Leon Bauer, an American businessman tobacco, of course living in Instanbul in 1945 right after the end of the war He has already begun doing some odd job assignments for Tommy King at the American embassy, ferrying papers to the capital in Ankara and similar work Now he has been asked to pick up a mysterious refugee and deliver him through to the West, a Romanian he knows little about When the appointed pickup finally occurs, shots ring out and Leon is suddenly fighting for his life and is bound to the future of his Romanian, who manages to survive.What follows from that is a tale in which you can never be sure who is siding with whom The Russians have an interest in his client, the Turkish police are investigating the shooting, the Emniyet, or Turkish secret police, are keeping an eye on everyone, personified by the smoothly sagacious Altan, and Leon has to figure out what to do with his prisoner, why his former boss is dead, and then why yet another American official is killed In the meantime, he visits his wife Anna, who is in a clinic, locked into her own mind after a horrific sinking of a Jewish refugee rescue ship left her permanently imprisoned behind her blank face And of course there is a love interest, Kay Bishop, the American consul s wife, who may or may not be what she seems as well.Unlike the books of Robert Ludlum, where the characters were often just cardboard cutouts to move the action along, each of Kanon s people has a backstory that you are drawn into, even if you don t like them, and the city itself becomes another character, with its spires, mosques, trams, boats, bazaars and bridges.Please join me in becoming a fan. A man, filled with good intentions, is caught in the jaws of the competing and intersecting interests of global powers in Istanbul after World War II Istanbul is the bridge between north and south in Europe, and between West and East It has always been a place of great intrigue and mystery, filled with industrialists and spies By setting his mystery here after the war, Kanon capitalizes on the reader s sense of dislocation We are familiar with the war, but we know little about what happened shortly after, when hundreds of thousands of Jews needed resettlement from Reich controlled countries and war time spies were tying up loose ends, chasing double agents and moles Istanbul was a port through which some of the refugees streamed, bought from their oppressors by well meaning Jewish citizens with the intention of giving them passage to some other country where they could set up a new life Palestine was one of these destinations, by no means the obvious choice.This is the first novel of Kanon s I ve read, but I have taken note of his books and know that his particular interest has been the war years in Europe He flawlessly captures that insular American consulate feeling, the wide eyed naivet gradually devolving into a slight disdain fueled by lack of understanding The intrigue of a city of spies comes through clearly as well, the confusion and the calculation as one undercover spy after another is picked off, leaving the innocent and the reader to figure out what happened and who is responsible and what can be done.Kanon s style is telegraphic, abrupt, pointillist when describing a man s thoughts rather like the way we talk in our own heads when walking down the street We don t think in complete sentences when we are noticing street action Only words and phrases come to us red hat, sidling walk, cold, sun Together these can add up to a larger understanding that we must explain in sentences to another And there was my difficulty Not only was Kanon noticing and attaching value to things differently than I might have, he didn t always give me a complete sentence in which to process his progress I got the gist, and I got used to it, but it certainly added to the mystery of the piece that I couldn t completely trust the judgment of the main character and I suspected everyone The mystery his language produced was akin to that fog of incomprehension his characters were laboring under who knew what and when, and who held the cards After my initial reserve I entered fully into Kanon s vision, and he managed to crank the stress level quite high enough to impel this reader through to the end Istanbul comes through clearly colorful, exotic, dangerous The sly knowingness in the Turkish character makes the people attractive and descriptions of the city and the Bosporus are irresistible Makes you want to book passage Now. From The Acclaimed, Bestselling Author Of Stardust, The Good German,and Los Alamos A Gripping Tale Of An American Undercover Agent In Istanbul Who Descends Into The Murky Cat And Mouse World Of Compromise And Betrayal That Will Come To Define The Entire Post War EraA Neutral Capital Straddling Europe And Asia, Istanbul Has Spent The War As A Magnet For Refugees And Spies Even American Businessman Leon Bauer Has Been Drawn Into This Shadow World, Doing Undercover Odd Jobs And Courier Runs For The Allied War Effort Now As The Espionage Community Begins To Pack Up And An Apprehensive City Prepares For The Grim Realities Of Post War Life, He Is Given One Assignment, A Routine Job That Goes Fatally Wrong, Plunging Him Into A Tangle Of Intrigue And Moral ConfusionPlayed Out Against The Bazaars And Mosques And Faded Mansions Of This Knowing, Ancient Ottoman City, Leon S Attempt To Save One Life Leads To A Desperate Manhunt And A Maze Of Shifting Loyalties That Threatens His Own How Do You Do The Right Thing When There Are Only Bad Choices To Make Istanbul Passage Is The Story Of A Man Swept Up In The Aftermath Of War, An Unexpected Love Affair, And A City As Deceptive As The Calm Surface Waters Of The Bosphorus That Divides ItRich With Atmosphere And Period Detail, Joseph Kanon S Latest Novel Flawlessly Blends Fact And Fiction Into A Haunting Thriller About The Dawn Of The Cold War, Once Again Proving Why Kanon Has Been Hailed As The Heir Apparent To Graham Greene The Boston Globe Intrigue, Romance, and Betrayal in Post World War II IstanbulSome books build slowly, and just as you begin to wonder whether you have the energy to finish them, you discover you re a captive and no longer able to put them aside Then they build and build, until you find yourself on the last page, out of breath from the frenzied rush to the end Istanbul Passage is one of those books.Kanon, born in 1946, writes spy stories about the period immediately following World War II and before the Korean War 1945 50 Istanbul Passage relates the tale of Leon Bauer, an American businessman whose poor eyesight had kept him out of the war In compensation seeking his own war, really Leon has persuaded a friend of his in the U.S consulate to hire him for special espionage assignments, helping smuggle Jews out of Romania and on to Palestine Now, in 1945, Leon receives a different sort of assignment, which involves helping to smuggle a high value Romanian intelligence target through Istanbul and on to safety in the U.S But everything quickly goes wrong Leon finds himself shooting a man to death in a firefight, and the Romanian turns out to be a war criminal at least partly responsible for one of the most notorious massacres of Jews outside the German and Polish camps.Istanbul Passage is a complex and finely written tale You can t read the book without getting to know Leon Bauer and Istanbul as deeply as though you had experienced the story yourself Joseph Kanon is one fine writer Kanon ran two major New York publishing houses before he began writing in 1995 when he was nearly 50 His five previous novels Los Alamos 1997 , The Prodigal Spy 1998 , The Good German 2001 , Alibi 2005 , and Stardust 2009 have won widespread acclaim, and deservedly so, as I ve noted in my reviews From www.malwarwickonbooks.com
Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Istanbul Passage book, this is one of the most wanted Joseph Kanon author readers around the world.
- 432 pages
- Istanbul Passage
- Joseph Kanon
- 06 April 2018 Joseph Kanon