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The Soul of Viktor Tronko Mass Market Paperback – December 3, 1988

38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Peacefully engrossed in writing a biography of a termite collector, Kessler gets a surprise visit from an old friend. Mel is a one-time CIA agent now ready to reveal an espionage event that occurred two decades earlier. When Mel is murdered, Kessler is seduced by the whiff of a really big story. He pursues the leads that suggest one Victor Tronko was a fake defector let loose to mask the presence of a KGB mole in the CIA's highest levels. When Kessker dislodges the wasps' nest, retribution strikes. Sinuously intricate and compellingly realistic, this cloak-and-dagger caper will be as well received as The Zolta Configuration. While most thrillers let the reader bob like a cork on the surface, this author's knack is to draw down a reader's full attention with complicated dialogue, shifts in narrative, and intense activity. Barbara Conaty, Medical Coll. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

David Quammen is the author of a dozen fiction and nonfiction books, including Blood Line and The Song of the Dodo. Spillover, his most recent book, was shortlisted for several major awards. A three-time National Magazine Award winner, he is a contributing writer for National Geographic and has written also for Harper’s, Outside, Esquire, The Atlantic, Powder, and Rolling Stone. He travels widely on assignment, usually to jungles, mountains, remote islands, and swamps. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Dell (December 3, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440201772
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440201779
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 4.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,287,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mitchell Burger on July 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I read this book several years ago. One of the better, more cerebral espionage books I've ever read. Been trying to find his other spy book (i.e., "Zolta"), but its out of print. Too bad the author does not appear to be writing this type of fiction anymore--while his nature stuff is good, I'd love to see him fill the void left by Adam Hall.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Claude Lambert on November 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are looking for a more complex spy novel than Le Carre can write, you got to read this. It is excellent, but it needs smart and patient readers to keep up with tiny bits of information lost in a lot of disinformation. The hero is a journalist who tries to get to the truth by interviewing retired CIA agents. The agents talk because they are bitter and unsatisfied, so their reports are tainted. Therefore it is impossible to decide if Viktor Tronko is a Russian defector or a double agent. The journalist is attracted to the case by the tantalizing promise that there is or might be a link between Tronko and the Kennedy assassination, or between Tronko and a traitor within the CIA.
The reading is made more light by the desire of the journalist to go back to his real love: natural history (as Quammen himself did). The real life naturalist Eugene Marais plays a role too, as his work was stolen by the poet Maurice Maeterlinck, another (real) case of lie and disinformation!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
It's a spy-thriller type book, the story of a journalist who starts rooting around in CIA affairs, trying to find the truth about a man named Viktor Tronko. Tronko was a Soviet, who may have been a defector, or maybe a ruse; in any case he told the Americans some pretty important information. If they believe it. The novel swarms with characters, all of them realistic and lifelike, all imaginative. Although the facts and people become confusing after awhile, the end is very satisfying and definately worth reading to. It's also amusing that Quammen wrote a novel wherein the main character is a middle-aged journalist who enjoys writing about nature (and through that about people) and has a fetish for Eugene Marais. The writing is very good, the story although confusing is interesting.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By DEM on December 25, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The negative reviews on this book I read were likely written by readers more comfortable with James Patterson or a Marvel comic book. Ignore them. This book is sheer genius and I take my hat off to the author. It is a cerebral recounting of actual events, only moderately fictionalized. I can't say enough positive things about the author but have to ask why he stopped writing fiction?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Zaphood on December 16, 2014
Format: MP3 CD
Excellent thoughtful spy thriller in the Le-Carre' tradition. Seems a lot more realistic than most other example of the genre.If you want car chases and heroic men fighting evil along clearly defined lines, go somewhere else. But if you want to be drawn into a world where everybody is lying and telling the truth and sometimes both at the same time, this is the book for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 3, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As good as the early John Le Carre books, this procedural thriller from an unlikely writer of science seems to have some loose threads that kept me wondering if a sequel was originally planned. You will also like David Quammen's book if you enjoy reading Martin Cruz Smith. It doesn't seem that many copies were sold, which I can't quite explain. Maybe it came out at a wrong time. Perhaps it would have been better to sell the book in Britain first. Or maybe just poor marketing. Whatever the cause, this book deserves to be read more widely, and I hope there is a revival in interest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dane on November 10, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was engrossed right off the bat. I can't say it was one of those books you can't put down, but I kept coming back to it. Thanks Nancy for the recommendation.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The book kept my interest throughout but, I felt the climactic ending that would tie all the loose clues together was missing something. I may be the one who missed it, so let me apologize to better readers if that's the case. What I missed was the "why?" Why did this sorted story come to light at this particular time (to the main character) and why did so many former agents volunteer this information to the journalist? I was looking for a connection that would make it relevant to some recent (recent to the characters) event, but found none. All these secrets, all the intrigue and in the end, the truth remains lost among partial information and chance events. Maybe that's the point. In the world of espionage there are many truths that will never be fully unmasked. Well..., Okay then.
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