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Christopher's Ghosts Hardcover – May 10, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Veteran McCarry (The Tears of Autumn) remains a compelling storyteller, as shown in his latest spy thriller, which chronicles the early career of his series hero, Paul Christopher. In 1939 Berlin, 16-year-old Paul struggles, with his American novelist father and German aristocrat mother, against the Nazi rulers of Germany. The Christophers are refined intellectuals and known to be sympathetic to the persecuted Jews. A sadistic SS officer, Major Stutzer, takes pleasure in harassing Paul, who has fallen into an impassioned but forbidden love affair with a Jewish doctor's daughter. As war breaks out, Paul barely escapes, while his lover meets a horrible fate at Stutzer's hands. Flash forward to 1959: Paul, now one of the CIA's top operatives, undertakes a clandestine operation in East Berlin, where the Soviets have recruited a certain ex-Nazi officer to train their Arab allies. Can Paul finally face his old nemesis and put the ghosts of the past to rest? The book speeds toward a satisfying, inevitable conclusion. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

In his tenth book featuring CIA agent Paul Christopher, Charles McCarry delves into Christopher's past, answering some of the questions which have tantalized readers for decades. Overall, the critics were pleased with this latest addition to Christopher's story. Though they claimed it was not McCarry's best work, they repeatedly cited his elegant writing, fascinating characters, and his ability to elicit the utmost tension from every scene. They disagreed over the two parts of the book-the first, set in Berlin in 1939, and the second, set in East Berlin in 1959. Some preferred the earlier, heartrending tale of love found and lost, while others favored the pulse-pounding adventure of the latter half. Both, however, will have readers on the edge of their seats.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Duckworth (May 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585679143
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585679140
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,224,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Douglas S. Wood on June 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In Christopher's Ghosts, veteran spy thriller author Charles McCarry takes the reader back to Paul Christopher's early days as youth in Berlin with his American father Hubbard and beautiful German mother Lori. The first half of the book is taken up with Christopher's passionate youthful romance with 'Rima' in the days immediately before WW II. Rima is the daughter of a renowned Jewish surgeon who has been ruined by the Reich (although not technically a Jew under that regime's twisted laws).

At the same time his mother attracts the attention of SS leader Reinhard Heydrich. Lori uses this relationship to help protect her family - up to a point.

The second part of the book picks up in 1959. Christopher is now a crack agent for the fledging US intelligence service. McCarry sends Christopher and the readers back to Cold War Berlin. The setting is shortly before the Wall goes up and Christopher is on a mission that dually serves his own ends as well as broader American interests.

McCarry uses Christopher's experiences to explore the uses of physical and psychological torture and its impact on torturer and victim. In doing so he holds a mirror up for the contemporary reader, not in a heavy-handed way, but one is led to uncomfortable reflections about the capacity of humans to inflict unspeakable suffering in what the torturers perceive as a good cause.

McCarry's newest effort satisfies more than his recent (and somewhat fantastic) Old Boys. If it falls short of his classic
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Sean McIntire on May 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Shelling out $[...] for a hardcover is not something I'm likely do unless I really know an author, or I hear amazing things.

Well, many friends have been keen on McCarry for a long time, claiming he's one of the top writers of espionage, suspense/thriller fiction and most definitely in the same literary league with John LeCarre, Alan Furst, Eric Ambler and Ken Follett. I figured this was the one to jump on the bandwagon for after I googled it and read amazing reviews from every paper I looked at.

Then I bought said book. Today. (Well, yesterday- it's 1:10). And I finished it- today. So while work may be hell tomorrow- I'm going to tell you- read the reviews if you don't trust me, but treat yourself to this book.

McCarry's nuanced, at times poetic, writing style, his ability to create real, flesh and blood characters who will move you, and his fast-paced, taunt storylines, put him at the top of the list for craftsmanship and inventiveness.

If Christopher's Ghosts ended at the conclusion of part one, it would stand -- existential climax notwithstanding -- as a brilliant novella of real life and human values confronting Orwellian evil. A teenage Paul Chriistopher, finds himself and family at the mercy of the Nazis' relentless surveillance of and interference in every aspect of citizens' lives, its determination to enforce a manufactured hierarchy of racial purities, its thought-control justice system and brutal, lawless enforcement -- is based in fact allows the novel to transcend all speculative cliché. Readers are offered a chillingly credible picture of a society overwhelmed by tin gods, pointless rules, and paranoia, a world where the expected meritocracy is turned on its head and anyone with a uniform can give life-or-death orders.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Archmaker VINE VOICE on August 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Paul Christopher is haunted by memory. And in this new outing for Charles McCarry's CIA operative, he reaches back into the memories begun in The Last Supper, to again delineate the lives and fates of his extraordinary parents in pre WWII Nazi Germany. But in this recall, Paul is now a teenager and we learn of his first love, an exceptional young half-Jewish woman, naturally in peril in the dreadful world of post-Nuremburg Law Berlin.

Paul's parent's anti-Nazi activities have everyone in peril, and McCarry's description of the fear and tension of living in a world wherein the whims of a Gestapo chief could have you killed on-the-spot, a world in which there is a ruthless, albeit insane logic that can be enforced upon you at any second, without recourse or protest, is conveyed convincingly and chillingly.

Chief amongst the purveyors of terror is the Gestapo head, Stutzer, introduced to us in Last Supper and contemptuously dismissed and humiliated by Paul's mother in particular. He has the power now, and he will pay back these insults many times over with terror and humiliation of his own.

Suffice it to say, tragedy is the outcome of these encounters involving the first half of the book. The second half commences with Paul Christopher seeing this self-same Stutzer on the streets of post-WWII Occupied Berlin in 1959 and the subsequent cat-and-mouse game that is played as Paul seeks revenge for the many crimes committed by this loathsome man against both humanity and more particularly against Paul Christopher's loved ones.

A good read with Charles McCarry doing what he does best, examining the character and psyche of people in dangerous and terrifying circumstances. That, and he has a fine sense of the tender devotions between men and women in love, and his depiction of first love is sensitive and sure. Well worthwhile.
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