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The Star of Istanbul: A Christopher Marlowe Cobb Thriller Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Series: Christopher Marlowe Cobb
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press; First Edition edition (October 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802121551
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802121554
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #585,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* When we last saw Christopher Marlowe (“Kit”) Cobb, war correspondent, secret agent, and all-around soldier of fortune, he was in civil-war-torn Mexico, cavorting with Pancho Villa (The Hot Country, 2012). Now, in 1915, with WWI raging, and the neutral U.S. edging toward involvement, he’s aboard the doomed Lusitania, tracking a German American who may be a secret-service agent and falling under the spell of a famous actress, Selene Bourgani, who has secrets of her own. After the Lusitania meets its watery grave, Kit lands in London, where he continues to shadow the actress (well, not exactly: he’s fallen in love with her and does most of his “shadowing” in her bed). Meanwhile, there’s a German assassin out there somewhere called Der Wolf, whose eyes may be on both Selene and Kit. The Wolf’s trail leads to Istanbul, where Selene’s motives gradually become clear and where Kit lands in a blood-soaked finale. Butler juggles a lot of elements here, in terms of both plotting, as double and triple crosses merge like lanes in a traffic roundabout, and tone, as the novel commingles character-driven historical fiction with melodrama and swashbuckling action. Somehow, though, it all works; on one level, Butler is playing with genre conventions in an almost mad-scientist manner, but at the same time, he holds the reader transfixed, like a kid at a Saturday matinee. --Bill Ott

Review

“Zestful, thrilling . . . a ripping good yarn.”—Wall Street Journal

“[An] outstanding work of historical fiction.”—Huntington News

The Star of Istanbul has it all: history galore, exotic foreign settings, a world-weary yet engaging protagonist, villains in abundance and a romance worthy of Bogart and Bergman.”—BookPage

"Double and triple crosses merge like lanes in a traffic roundabout, and . . . the novel commingles character-driven historical fiction with melodrama and swashbuckling action. Somehow . . . it all works; on one level, Butler is playing with genre conventions in an almost mad-scientist manner, but at the same time, he holds the reader transfixed, like a kid at a Saturday matinee."—Booklist (starred review)

"Butler impresses with his exceptional attention to historical detail, particularly aboard the Lusitania."—Publishers Weekly

“Butler is an excellent observer of interior psychological detail . . . and his fine description of the Lusitania’s demise shows he can write action-packed scenes as well. . . . It’s a pleasure to watch Cobb clear away layer upon layer of scheming and disguises to expose some ugly truths about humanity.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Butler’s grasp of history is excellent. . . . You will enjoy every new twist and turn in this spy game.”—Arab Voice

“[Butler’s] description of the aftermath of the attack on the Lusitania will leave you with your heart in your mouth. . . . Yet another remarkable work from an author who continues, at this advanced stage of his career, to surpass himself.”—Bookreporter.com

“Butler’s description of the sinking of the Lusitania is exceptional . . . . In Cobb, Butler has created an appealing hero.”—Readers Unbound

"An exciting thriller with plenty of action, romance, and danger. . . . Fans of historical spy fiction will enjoy this fast-paced journey through a world at war."—Library Journal

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Customer Reviews

Historical fiction at its finest.
John H. Turner
I will certainly be looking forward to book #3.
Kenneth C. Mahieu
A few too many coincidences in the plot.
r rbuce wallace

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By plane on October 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
A novel set 100 years ago during the first world war at a time that the U.S. had not entered the fray as yet. Butler has set up a plot that moves through major events occurring in 1915 and brings them to life in a well researched novel featuring Christopher Marlowe Cobb a war correspondent and spy utilized by the author in other books.
Cobb is tasked by the US government to follow a man named Brauer aboard the liner Lusitania in May of 1915 believing that Brauer has information vital to the war effort. Cobb does so and while sailing on the ship meets actress Selene Bougani with whom he begins a romantic attachment, falling in love with her. It also appears likely that Selene has her own secrets regarding events in the conflict raging in Europe.
The liner sails from New York loaded with passengers in spite of an ad placed by the German consulate advising that the Lusitania is British and is sailing into a war zone. Nearing the coast of Ireland on May 7th the ship is torpedoed by a German u-boat and quickly sinks. Butler's description of the attack, the panic and chaos that follow is a definite highlight of the book. He subtly changes his style of writing during description of the sinking to get the reader to rapidly follow events becoming more attuned to what most likely did happen and reactions of the people involved.
Cobb helps Selene to survive and once ashore follows her ultimately to Istanbul where she has had a meeting arranged by Brauer with Enver Pasha, rising star of the Turkish army and later to become Ataturk the power behind the formation of modern Turkey.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By BeJay NY on November 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Disclaimer: I am 16 days older than Bob Butler and once, years ago, I took a week-long writing workshop with him, couped up in the dorms of UMDuluth while that campus was beseiged by army worms. The reason I travelled there from New York was to learn how to better write an historical novel. And, I confess to owning almost all of Bob's multi-faceted fiction and non-fiction, in print format. [Frankly, I was uncertain if Butler would pull off such a story when I first heard of the pending publication of a "literary/historical/espionage/thrillers" series, well that was quickly put to rest in the first chapter of the first novel.]

I might instead have just waited to study "The Star of Istanbul" (and it's progenitor in this series, "The Hot Country"). This series is that well written -- it is like a master-class in character, plot and first person voice, an interesting class where the peerless craft of the mentor is understated but self-evident.

Yet, I can see where this might be a problem for some readers who are expecting a mindless or formulaic read -- that is definetly not Robert Olen Butler. Rather, he is a thinking person's writer, sensitive and erudite, and shape-changing with almost every new piece of work. For his enthusiastic audience Butler has continually brought a new voice to the table with each literary project and he has raised the bar on narrative creativity.

FYI, I have personally sailed through the Dardanelles into the Sea of Marmara and via the Bosporus, in the light of early morning, I have approached the mysterious precincts of Istanbul/Constantinople. And I can still conjure images of the Blue Mosque and the fog-shrouded minarets and the hustle-bustle of that ancient port -- images that Bob recreates so effortlessly....
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Reader on November 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoy the Christopher Cobb books because I can truly escape into the story and lose myself in the characters and places. It isn't so much "reading" as actually being present in place and time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Steven C. Hull on December 15, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Robert Olen Butler is a very accomplished writer having won the Pulitzer Prize in 1991. However, the “Star of Istanbul” appears as if Butler is knocking out a commercial novel series in order to fund his retirement plan. John Banville, the Irish writer, did just that, only he wrote a mystery series under the pen name “Benjamin Black” in order to avoid confusing his fans with a different brand, a completely different style of writing. I think Butler would have been better off using a pen name for this, the second novel in this character’s series.

“Istanbul” continues the story of Christopher (Kit) Marlowe Cobb, a war correspondent who has agreed to work for the U.S. government as a spy, effectively licensed to kill, using his journalism work as a cover. The story follows the events leading up to the entry of the U.S. into World War One. The Spanish-American War and World War One become the entry point for Kit, as well as the U.S. government, to learn the spy trade, stumbling to develop some type of foreign intelligence operation. This was the period when the U.S. gradually came out of its isolationism and suddenly found it was the dominant country in the world, certainly economically, yet a complete novice at the diplomatic table and hesitant to enter foreign politics, particularly the ridiculous entanglements of Europe and the Middle-east, with a small military. It is the story of Kit that parallels the learning process of the U.S., as Kit journeys from New York to London to Istanbul along with his inexperienced state department handlers.

Butler’s prose is inconsistent, at times flowing with the lyricism of literature, other times wallowing in melodrama and clumsy dialogue.
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