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Istanbul Passage: A Novel

Istanbul Passage: A Novel

Scritto da Joseph Kanon

Narrato da Jefferson Mays


Istanbul Passage: A Novel

Scritto da Joseph Kanon

Narrato da Jefferson Mays

valutazioni:
4/5 (39 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
14 ore
Pubblicato:
May 29, 2012
ISBN:
9781442352643
Formato:
Audiolibro

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Descrizione

From the acclaimed, bestselling author of Stardust, The Good German, and Los Alamos—a gripping tale of an American undercover agent in 1945 Istanbul who descends into the murky cat-and-mouse world of compromise and betrayal that will come to define the entire post-war era.

A 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 more assignment, a routine job that goes fatally wrong, plunging him into a tangle of intrigue and moral confusion.

Played 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 it.

Rich 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).

A Simon & Schuster audio production.

Pubblicato:
May 29, 2012
ISBN:
9781442352643
Formato:
Audiolibro

Disponibile anche come...

Disponibile anche come libroLibro


Informazioni sull'autore

Joseph Kanon is the Edgar Award–winning author of The Accomplice, Defectors, Leaving Berlin, Istanbul Passage, Los Alamos, The Prodigal Spy, Alibi, Stardust, and The Good German, which was made into a major motion picture starring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett. He lives in New York City.

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Recensioni dei lettori

  • (4/5)
    Anytime that you're looking for a thoughtful WWII-era character-driven thriller, you just can't go wrong with Joseph Kanon, who's right up there with Alan Furst in my book, with everyone else (alive, at least) pretty much wishing that they could write as well as these two. And this outing is no exception. The plot is decent, the narrative is outstanding, and the reader is left with a proper mix of resolved issues and matters left to interpretation. And not everyone gets a happy ending, which is only appropriate for the subject matter. The characters are three-dimensional and come with wonderful levels of moral ambiguity. The challenges that they face are not trivial and the questions that they have to ask -- of themselves and others -- don't lend themselves to easy black-and-white answers. And as for the setting, Kanon doesn't just set his story in Istanbul; he also pretty much transports the reader to that city and that time period. The guy can write a book.
  • (3/5)
    Sollte ich ein zweites Mal lesen. Der Spionage-Thriller ist sehr verwirrend, wenn man nicht sehr aufmerksam liest.
  • (4/5)
    Wonderfully told story about an unusual, exotic place at an unusual period of time; the immediate post World War II period when the Cold War had not yet really settled in. Intrigue, espionage, murder, romance are all part of this incredibly lush read. It has been a long time since I have been in Istanbul, but this book brought back memories to me of what an incredibly ancient, interesting city it is. Loved the book.
  • (4/5)
    Was a very good read. Intriguing and suspenseful with very believable characters. The main character was given just enough information to walk through the story and made his predicament believable.
  • (3/5)
    I read Joseph Kanon’s book Los Alamos soon after it came out in 1998 that book blew me out of the water and I had not forgotten it. When I saw his new one Istanbul Passage I was very excited to read it based on my love of his first book. I probably should have researched it a little more, Kanons writing was compared to Le Care’ who I am not a huge fan of (shocking I know!) The writing is slow, detailed and the main character is an everyman kind of guy.In this book It took me a long time to get into it, almost halfway through and, had it not been a book to review I would have given up sooner. I was confused most of the time, there are a lot of people and information to keep up with, many countries and towns, it seemed like a very sad book about a man who was hoodwinked by people he was supposedly friends with. His wife was in an institution from the horrors of war and it ended as it began… on a sad note.My mother loved this book, she is a spy junkie and I don’t want to turn anyone off who would love this book too, it is just that I did not.
  • (5/5)
    Kanon has, rightfully, been compared to Le Carre, Greene and Alan Furst. Istanbul Passage is an excellent spy novel in the tradition of these other writers. Istanbul is drawn with exactness; the convoluted atmosphere of spying in post-WWII is conveyed with lies, shifting loyalties and uncertain motives. Even our protagonist, Leon, isn't sure of his own motives.Leon has been sent to do a straight-forward pickup. Meet a boat bringing in a man and take him to a safe destination. When it all goes wrong Leon finds he has killed a man and must now ensure the safety of his package. But his 'package' is more than he knows, perhaps a man not worth saving, and a man that every side wants. Kanon brings out a new book approximately every three years. Each one is worth the wait and Istanbul Passage is no exception.
  • (5/5)
    This powerful story brings to live the immediate post-war period in Istanbul. The Soviets and the Americans are trying to gain control over this city, whose kaleidoscopic character is the perfect backdrop for the continuously shifting storyline. A very precious book, masterful and full of suspense!
  • (4/5)
    This is a fun, engaging espionage thriller about a low-level U.S. operative trying to navigate all sorts of mayhem in 1945 Istanbul to try to save a high-level escapee from the Soviets because the American government thinks this fellow has information they can use about those darn Ruskies. The war is over and all the spies are leaving Turkey. Well, not quite all the spies, of course. Anyway, the plot is pretty good and the various twists and turns enjoyable, with just enough history worked in to add spice. Just a smidge of character development, but, how much do you need in a "entertainment" like this one? I read Kanon's The Good German a while back, and enjoyed it a bit more than this book, but still I would recommend Istanbul Passage to fans of the genre. Kanon does employ a narrative tic I can do without, the cobbling together, by comma, of phrase smash-ups meant to approximate train of thought breathlessness. Occasionally, annoying, but not so much as to ruin the fun.
  • (3/5)
    Pretty ordinary really. The main protagonist is a bit of a drip, many of the characters seem two-dimensional cliches, the plot and the prose don't entice you to keep turning the page. Istanbul is interestingly depicted though, so that's something.
  • (4/5)
    I'm not typically a reader of thrillers or even of fiction containing espionage, but the blurb of this book caught my interest. I was lucky enough to win a copy through Goodreads' First Reads program, and I was very excited to dive in.

    Istanbul Passage did not fail to live up to my expectations. I was intrigued the whole way through, even feeling rushes of adrenaline during the more tense sections. The most impressive part of the reading experience by far was the depiction of Istanbul and the inclusion of many aspects of Turkish culture. WIth Kanon's imagery, you can feel yourself walking down a Turkish street, standing next to the Bosphorus, or drinking raki in a café. I applaud him for what obviously was great research and then even better writing, as I now cannot quell the urge to hop on the next plane to Istanbul to experience it myself.

    Overall, I highly enjoyed this book. The story was engaging and the characters were very well-written. But the way the setting was so superbly painted is what I will remember most.
  • (3/5)
    I don't read crime/mystery/thriller/espionage books often. In fact, I can't remember the last time I read one. I picked Istanbul Passage up because, well, it takes place in my home town. Kanon has a note in the book saying that he tried to use the words and names as they would have been in Istanbul right after WWII, and for the most part the Turkish words that pepper the text are accurate. Walking around in Istanbul with the characters of the book is certainly a captivating experience. And Cinili Camii is definitely worth a visit, though it is often ignored by tourists. Some of the experiences in the book are relevant to this day; for example, when the mosque is closed, Leon goes to find the attendant in the local hangout, which is something that I have experienced several times in the past few years. Istanbul is a very different place now, but in some ways, not much has changed.

    The story is fast paced and rather anxious, in the way most thrillers are supposed to be. The balancing act that Turkey employed during the war is captured well by Kanon, though perhaps explained a few too many times at different occasions. As always, our hero, Leon, is too good. I am not sure if he has to be that good for us to root for him; Kanon is certainly capable of writing morally atrocious characters, like Alexie, and still manage to make us feel for them. One of the reasons why I do not read this genre much is I can usually guess what will happen, and several plots twists in Istanbul Passage were too obvious for me. This doesn't mean I did not enjoy them as they happened, though, which is Kanon's talent. Another strength of the narrative is the dialog, which is rather realistic and not written to solely explain things to the reader.
  • (4/5)
    Although this is a spy story of the Cold War shortly after WWII, it is a story with quiet tones. Of course there are deaths and shootings but the thoughts and feelings of the protagonists are in the foreground. Leon Bauer, who worked during the war as a courier is suddenly in the spotlight and has to pick up and pass a Romanian 'butcher'. What at first looks like a simple task develops abruptly to something big, even seemingly unsolvable. Leon, which is plagued by scruples and will make it all right, is confronted with the impossible. In this story Leons emotional life is described in great detail so that one gets the feeling that you think like him.The end is on the one hand surprising and the other hand you can sense it.
  • (5/5)
    I can't recommend Istanbul Passage highly enough. This has it all: great writing, exotic setting, and a wonderful and exciting story. I've read all of Joseph Kanon's novels, which are uniformly excellent, and this one has become my favorite. I really appreciate a novelist who takes the time he needs to write a quality piece of work.

    What I like best about the book is Kanon's writing. The style and pacing of his narrative seems to closely match what is happening in the story. It's written in sort of a 'throwback' style- very smooth, almost courtly dialogue. Many thrillers seem to be written in breakneck mode, where the author is driving the pace of the story along with staccato writing. Kanon allows the story to unfold and allows his words to create an atmosphere that you can really picture in your mind's eye.

    The story itself is very interesting and moves at a satisfying pace. The 'hero' finds himself in many ambiguous situations that force him to make decisions that you may or may not agree with, but as far as I'm concerned that's one of the hallmarks of a great book. Kanon paints an incredible picture of the characters, the Turkish setting, and the action.

    If you're a fan of the thriller/spy genre', you really need to check out Istanbul Passage.
  • (5/5)
    An outstanding read. The historical context,characters and story are well developed and will likely stay with you for a long time after you've finished the book.
  • (1/5)
    i wanted to like this book because of the great reviews but the wrting style made me give up after just 30 pages. i checked in the back of the book kf the style might change but it was still these short sentences ina very ling sentence and i just lost track of the words within a sentence. sorry.
  • (5/5)
    I saw something about a brand new book of Kanon's, probably just the title, and looked it up and saw that it is a post-WW2 spy novel. And I read another of his books several years ago, Stardust, in 2009, which I enjoyed a lot. The new book wasn't available yet from the library, so I took this one out while I was waiting for the new one, and it was on the shelf at my local library. It was a good choice.1940's Istanbul is the main character in this book. You really get the atmosphere of the place while you visit a lot of the neighborhoods and attractions, and get taken into the life of the city at that time. At least the life of the foreigners who were living there then.The plot is well constructed and engrossing. The main character is an American who was in Istanbul during the war and did some minor courrier-type work for American intelligence at that time. At the beginning of the book, he is asked to meet a defector who is being smuggled into Istabul from Soviet controlled territory and who will be taken to the U.S. But that mission goes badly wrong, people die and the hero ends up with the defector and with his American contact no longer around to help. He has to try to get him out of the country on his own. That's the main plot line, there is alot more going on at the same time.I was drawn into the story and read the book very quickly. Now ready to start the new book.
  • (3/5)
    Audiobook. Different context. Fun read. I think I liked this book because I read it within the context of memoir byOrphan Pamuk: Istanbul: Memories and the City. I really loved and continue to return to Pamuk's book on Instanbul.
  • (3/5)
    This spy novel takes place in Istanbul in 1945, after WWII had ended and the Cold War between East and West was beginning. Leon Bauer lives in Istanbul working as an agent for American tobacco interests. But he also takes on intermittent jobs for the CIA, through the chief operative at the U.S. consulate, Tommy King. Tommy asks him to take on one more job for him before Tommy leaves to go back to the States, which is to pick up and deliver a “human package” from a fishing boat late at night. The job goes horribly wrong however, and Leon ends up killing Tommy, who is inexplicably and unexpectedly on the scene.Leon is then faced with deciding what to do with the person he picked up, who turns out to be a Nazi war criminal wanted by both sides in the post-war world. But Leon decides, at great risk to himself, to help Alexei escape; not to do so, he fears, or even just to do nothing, would make him complicit in Alexei’s murder. Discussion: The author, as he indicated in a conversation appended to the end of the paperback book, wanted to show the contrast between the “black-and-white certainties” of World War II compared to “the murkier gray of the Cold War, with all its moral ambiguities,” but I don’t think he was so successful. The “bad guy” whom the main character, Leon Bauer, opted to protect, were so unremittingly evil that his disposition didn’t seem all that morally ambiguous. Leon, in trying “to do the right thing,” instead did something that risked the lives of many innocent people who were in fact situated on the moral high road. In another case, his efforts for Alexei led to the murder of another character who just happened to be in Alexei’s path. I was never convinced that Leon was in a moral dilemma at all; rather, I just saw him as stupid and weak, and looking for excuses to justify his cowardice. This had a negative effect on my reaction to the book.Evaluation: This is more of a character study than a spy thriller, but combines aspects of both. In addition, it provides a detailed glimpse at the colorful world of post-WWII Istanbul. I did not, however, find the “moral dilemma” at the heart of the story credible or appealing in any way. Nor were any of the characters sympathetic except for one single side character, a member of Israel's Mossad who was trying to help get Jewish refugees to Palestine, and who continually agreed to help Leon, mostly out of loyalty to Leon's now brain-addled wife.
  • (4/5)
    I'm not typically a reader of thrillers or even of fiction containing espionage, but the blurb of this book caught my interest. I was lucky enough to win a copy through Goodreads' First Reads program, and I was very excited to dive in.

    Istanbul Passage did not fail to live up to my expectations. I was intrigued the whole way through, even feeling rushes of adrenaline during the more tense sections. The most impressive part of the reading experience by far was the depiction of Istanbul and the inclusion of many aspects of Turkish culture. WIth Kanon's imagery, you can feel yourself walking down a Turkish street, standing next to the Bosphorus, or drinking raki in a café. I applaud him for what obviously was great research and then even better writing, as I now cannot quell the urge to hop on the next plane to Istanbul to experience it myself.

    Overall, I highly enjoyed this book. The story was engaging and the characters were very well-written. But the way the setting was so superbly painted is what I will remember most.
  • (4/5)
    Leon Bauer is, or appears to be, just an agent for American tobacco interests in Turkey. Rejected for military service, he's spent several years in Istanbul, learning the language and customs and steeping himself in the beautiful city that sits between east and west. With his German refugee wife, Anna, he has made Istanbul his home. Even after World War II ends, he has no desire to return to the United States.Leon's other life is on the fringes of the intelligence community. He does occasional side jobs, mostly package deliveries, for a friend at the U.S. consulate. But when he gets an assignment to pick up a human package from a fishing boat one night, the job goes very wrong. Now, Leon has left the fringes of the murky world of espionage and is left stranded in its dangerous center, not knowing who he can trust, and improvising to complete his task on his own.It turns out that Leon has a talent for acting as a lone agent, keeping his own counsel and observing everyone in his life to try to figure out what went wrong at the pickup, who might have been involved and who they might represent, all while he's working hard to figure out how to get Alexei, his human package, out of Turkey. Now he looks at everyone differently. Might there be a traitor at the consulate? Is an old friend a Russian agent? What about the hostess whose parties bring together people from all countries and interests; the guy who forges documents; the police investigator; Altan, the scrupulously-polite-but-threatening commander from Turkey's secret police; even those closest to Leon?Leon may be new to the ruthless world of the secret agent, but is soon drawn into its moral ambiguities and compromises; using friends, even when it places them in danger, even as he learns how unworthy Alexei is of his help.Joseph Kanon excels at drawing a picture of the immediate postwar period. Europe's cities are in ruins, loyalties in flux, power shifting and nobody knowing what the new world will look like. He's done it before in his novels, especially in The Good German and Alibi: A Novel, probably the novels most similar to Istanbul Passage. Though the mood may be the same, this is a different location, and one that adds a lot to the story. Istanbul has always been a divided city; east and west, Muslim, Christian, Jewish. In the 20th century no longer a world power, it sat uneasily between Germany and Russia during the war, and now it must walk a tightrope between the new powers, Russia and the United States. Istanbul is the perfect setting for this story and Kanon brings it alive, from the street bazaars to the bathhouses, the mosques, the back streets, the cafés where people sip tea from tulip glasses, the yalis--villas--on the waterfront, and the mysteriously beautiful and dangerous Bosphorus.The title, Istanbul Passage, is well chosen. It can refer to to Leon's passage from almost an errand boy to a rogue agent, from a black-and-white moralist to somebody who reluctantly, and to his chagrin, learns from Alexei and Altan what it takes to survive when you're on your own. Or the title may refer to Istanbul's history as a place where people are bought, sold and smuggled. Throughout the war and afterward, the city served as a passage for refugees, especially Jewish refugees, to escape to a new life. And that Jewish refugee theme forms a part of this story as well.This is not a shoot-em-up, action-packed thriller, but one that puts you into its time and place and in the mind of a man trying to figure out where his loyalties lie within it, and what choice to make when all the alternatives are bad.
  • (3/5)
    I read Joseph Kanon’s book Los Alamos soon after it came out in 1998 that book blew me out of the water and I had not forgotten it. When I saw his new one Istanbul Passage I was very excited to read it based on my love of his first book. I probably should have researched it a little more, Kanons writing was compared to Le Care’ who I am not a huge fan of (shocking I know!) The writing is slow, detailed and the main character is an everyman kind of guy.In this book It took me a long time to get into it, almost halfway through and, had it not been a book to review I would have given up sooner. I was confused most of the time, there are a lot of people and information to keep up with, many countries and towns, it seemed like a very sad book about a man who was hoodwinked by people he was supposedly friends with. His wife was in an institution from the horrors of war and it ended as it began… on a sad note.My mother loved this book, she is a spy junkie and I don’t want to turn anyone off who would love this book too, it is just that I did not.
  • (4/5)
    Leon Bauer is, or appears to be, just an agent for American tobacco interests in Turkey. Rejected for military service, he's spent several years in Istanbul, learning the language and customs and steeping himself in the beautiful city that sits between east and west. With his German refugee wife, Anna, he has made Istanbul his home. Even after World War II ends, he has no desire to return to the United States.Leon's other life is on the fringes of the intelligence community. He does occasional side jobs, mostly package deliveries, for a friend at the U.S. consulate. But when he gets an assignment to pick up a human package from a fishing boat one night, the job goes very wrong. Now, Leon has left the fringes of the murky world of espionage and is left stranded in its dangerous center, not knowing who he can trust, and improvising to complete his task on his own.It turns out that Leon has a talent for acting as a lone agent, keeping his own counsel and observing everyone in his life to try to figure out what went wrong at the pickup, who might have been involved and who they might represent, all while he's working hard to figure out how to get Alexei, his human package, out of Turkey. Now he looks at everyone differently. Might there be a traitor at the consulate? Is an old friend a Russian agent? What about the hostess whose parties bring together people from all countries and interests; the guy who forges documents; the police investigator; Altan, the scrupulously-polite-but-threatening commander from Turkey's secret police; even those closest to Leon?Leon may be new to the ruthless world of the secret agent, but is soon drawn into its moral ambiguities and compromises; using friends, even when it places them in danger, even as he learns how unworthy Alexei is of his help.Joseph Kanon excels at drawing a picture of the immediate postwar period. Europe's cities are in ruins, loyalties in flux, power shifting and nobody knowing what the new world will look like. He's done it before in his novels, especially in The Good German and Alibi: A Novel, probably the novels most similar to Istanbul Passage. Though the mood may be the same, this is a different location, and one that adds a lot to the story. Istanbul has always been a divided city; east and west, Muslim, Christian, Jewish. In the 20th century no longer a world power, it sat uneasily between Germany and Russia during the war, and now it must walk a tightrope between the new powers, Russia and the United States. Istanbul is the perfect setting for this story and Kanon brings it alive, from the street bazaars to the bathhouses, the mosques, the back streets, the cafés where people sip tea from tulip glasses, the yalis--villas--on the waterfront, and the mysteriously beautiful and dangerous Bosphorus.The title, Istanbul Passage, is well chosen. It can refer to to Leon's passage from almost an errand boy to a rogue agent, from a black-and-white moralist to somebody who reluctantly, and to his chagrin, learns from Alexei and Altan what it takes to survive when you're on your own. Or the title may refer to Istanbul's history as a place where people are bought, sold and smuggled. Throughout the war and afterward, the city served as a passage for refugees, especially Jewish refugees, to escape to a new life. And that Jewish refugee theme forms a part of this story as well.This is not a shoot-em-up, action-packed thriller, but one that puts you into its time and place and in the mind of a man trying to figure out where his loyalties lie within it, and what choice to make when all the alternatives are bad.
  • (5/5)
    A spy novel set in Istanbul right after the war where the Turks (police), Mossad intelligence, Americans, and Russians all spy and betray. Plot begins with Leon, an occasional outside spy, asked to keep a Romanian ex-Nazi safe to turn over to the Americans so that he can brief them on Russians. But nothing goes as planned and Leon shootsa nd kills the very man who had assigned him the task when that man tries to kill both the Romanian and him. That's just the very first of many complications. There is Leon's wife, mad, because she was unable to save Jews she was helping to flee to Palestine. There is another American intelligence officer killed. There is Leon's mistress and his new love, wife of the man killed. There is Leon's good friend who is German and another who iis Jewish, his best friend, who hates Alexei the Romanian for his role in the deaths of many Jews. What to do when the choice is between two bad things. What to do when to do anything will entangle one forever in someone else's power. A well written, tautly plotted novel. We go to Istanbul in a month and this novel makes it come alive for me in ways a guidebook can't.
  • (3/5)
    I thought this would be a good spy mystery, but I just could not get involved with the cold war storyline.
  • (4/5)
    Atmospheric and engrossing mystery set in Istanbul just after the Second World War. The plot is complex, involving an American businessman who has done occasional espionage jobs for his embassy during the war. A series of events moves him from the edges to the very center of a dark and twisted world of spy vs. spy, reminiscent of LeCarre in the complexity of motives and the uncertainty about who is on your side and who isn't. The atmosphere is terrific: I started visiting Istanbul about twenty years after the setting of this book, in the late 1960's, when the population was below 2 million. Now, the population is generally estimated at 15 milion plus, and the city has changed radically. This book vividly recalled to me the sense of "old Istanbul" that remained when I first visited. An engrossing trip back in time.
  • (4/5)
    This is a tale of post World War II espionage that packs a punch. Even though I wanted to stop reading because of the staccato writing style, the bursts of confusing thought, as if someone was talking, thinking, then speaking again, never quite finishing or expressing the original thought, I kept being drawn back, neglecting all else, to finish it in one day. I began to think that it must be the author’s intention to keep the reader as confused as the characters caught up in the mystery, to give the reader the charged feeling of tension the characters experienced. Perhaps the disjointed style was deliberate to make us understand how disjointed this whole spying process really is and was. It was very clearly cut throat. Everyone was used. People were commodities and considered very expendable. Whatever device the author was using, it certainly worked for me. I could not put it down until the end.The novel is composed of seven separate sections, each named for a different Turkish location and the action that occurred there. It begins with a scene in which two men are waiting for a boat to arrive with a secret passenger. Soon it becomes apparent that they are both engaged in work of a clandestine nature. During World War II they were involved in espionage work. It seems that post-war, they are still somewhat engaged in those activities. They, and their families, have both been permanently scarred by the effects of the war, and they are motivated by that pain to continue their efforts.Leon, who works for a tobacco company in his public life, works for the Americans, on the side, in his secret life. He is awaiting the arrival of a Romanian, a victim of the war, but he knows nothing else about the objective of his mission or about the man. Who was this person? Was he a friend or an enemy? Was he a criminal, a killer, a Jew? Who was he rescuing and why? Leon just blindly followed his orders. Mihai, who works for the Mossad, rescuing Jews, before and after the Holocaust, is doing Leon a favor because he speaks Romanian, and there is a possibility that an interpreter will be necessary. Leon’s wife used to work with Mihai and is now in a sanitarium. Her mind has shut down from all that she has witnessed. When Leon visits, she neither reacts nor responds. She has retreated into a world no one else can enter. It is from his visits and monologues with her that we learn more about Leon and his past. When, suddenly, men attached to the American Consulate are murdered, Leon becomes involved and is thrust into a larger plot. He is drawn into the maze of the investigative machinery of the Turks and the deeper undercover work of the Americans. There are bad apples everywhere, and at first he is shocked and ill equipped to deal with the work on so sophisticated a level. However, we soon learn that he is a quick study, and the reader is also suddenly more aware. The previous opacity becomes clearer for them too, and the story really takes off in several exciting directions.The story emphasizes the fact that spies are everywhere and they are all watching each other. It is an unending game of chess using people instead of inanimate pieces. The Turks are watching, the Russians are watching, the Israelis are watching and the Americans are watching; they each have their own agenda and brand of tactics, some much more brutal than others. Can anyone be trusted? Can anyone be bought for services if the stakes are high enough? Is survival the ultimate motive? Once in the game, is there any exit from it? In the end, who can Leon trust, his friends or his enemies, or perhaps both? Was everyone compromised? Does each serve their own purpose? Is everyone simply using each other? Is the enemy the only one he could truly trust, because they both were the ticket for each other's survival? The relationships between the characters seemed too incestuous at times. Coincidence sometimes played an unrealistic role. The writing style was confusing with the short staccato sentences. Still, I couldn’t put it down so the writer accomplished his purpose. He wrote a really good, action-packed book, and the ending was not obvious at all, so it held me until the final page. Finally, I was left with some compelling questions. There was so much betrayal. Was it all worth it? Is there ever a good purpose to spying or a good conclusion? Is the spy a willing conspirator or a captive audience with no choice once he gets in because he gets in too deep? Is there always an innocent victim? Do the means really justify the end? Perhaps the road to Hell is truly paved with good intentions.
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)
    A gerat read. Intrigue, twists, well woven plot. Characters were well developed with strengths, and flaw; many times second guessing their insticest and gut feelings. The setting and time period were very unique for a mystery, but strongly held to the evolving plot. It really made me want to visit Istanbul in years immediately folowing the end of WWII. I look forward to another Kanon novel.
  • (4/5)
    Istanbul Passage by Joseph Kanon is a twisty, slippery post- WWII spy thriller featuring solid citizen and part-time spy Leon Bauer. He's supposed to make a simple pick-up and delivery, but shots ring out and everything changes. His routine assignment turns into a escalating battle of wits with people who are not what they seem to be in a town of shadows and deception. Complicating matters is his wife's unending coma from a past mission, and his growing romantic feelings for the wife of a central member of Istanbul's diplomatic/spy community.Even with the war ended, many Jews need assistance getting out of countries like Romania, and Istanbul is a crossroads for political operations of the Americans, Russians and Turks. Leon is caught in the middle, including investigating himself (with others not knowing his role in the events) for a good part of the book. Post-war Istanbul is beautifully evoked, both at the high end with the diplomatic community, gardens and mosques, and in the everyday streets and alleys and markets. Fans of Graham Greene and Alan Furst are likely to enjoy this one.
  • (3/5)
    This is one of those books that the story is better then the writing. Set in Istanbul at the end of WW II its a story involving Romanian prison guards, Jewish smugglers, Russian spies and American diplomats. Unfortunately at times Kanon tries to get a little too clever and things get a little convoluted. But the history of the time and his description of Istanbul make it well worth the read.