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Tears of Autumn: A Paul Christopher Novel (Paul Christopher Novels) Paperback – June 26, 2007
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About the Author
Charles McCarry is the author, most recently, of Christopher’s Ghosts, and has written ten acclaimed novels featuring Paul Christopher and his family (all available from Overlook). During the Cold War, he was an intelligence officer operating under deep cover in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
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Where McCarry really shines is in the nuanced plotting and layered reveals that keep the reader riveted even if the basics of Christopher's take on Kennedy's murder have been known almost from the outset.
"Tears of Autumn" stands alongside the best of spy novels of the modern era.
What I especially liked about the book was development of the theory (not a plot spoiler, as so many other readers have already revealed the theme) that JFK was assassinated as payback for the assassination of the Vietnamese Diem brothers three weeks earlier. I've often wondered about the assassinations, the American one occurring so soon after the Vietnamese version, but I'm just naïve enough to have believed what the Warren Commission found - and also I'm not interested in getting bogged down in conspiracy theories - so didn't give it much thought at the time. McCarry/Christopher build a plausible case, which is a plus. Also I enjoyed the historical background. It's always interesting to read about times you've lived through, although sometimes rather unsettling to realize how much more there was to think about than you actually absorbed at the time.
Paul Christopher is an interesting guy, somewhat out of the mainstream of espionage agents. And the supporting characters also have a lot to offer. But what I couldn't get into was the detail about how Paul pieced together the evidence. Maybe too many Asians with confusing names - :-) - but what is highly unusual for me is that I started skipping through some of the later chapters without my usual obsession with nailing down every character and her/his role in the book at hand. Chaque a son gout? Often I frantically search for the consensus on a book, then fall reverently into line with the common view. But in this case a stubborn streak must have reared its ugly head. I didn't find this book the best thing since sliced bread. (Maybe that's not an apt depiction, since my preference is decidedly for whole loaves of whole wheat.) Meanwhile, I'll try McCarry again, hoping for the ultimate experience.
I only recently became aware of some of the revisionist history being written concerning the assassinations of the Ngo brothers in Viet Nam and how that was a real turning point in the war, with everything downhill from that point on. McCarry was writing a lot of this as fiction 30 odd years ago. Interesting. He presents an understanding of Vietnamese culture I had never encountered before, and it was very enlightening.
Filled with nefarious characters, a "rendition" kidnapping, revolutionaries, double agents and intrigue aplenty, there is also a nicely detailed love story of Paul Christopher and his Molly that fills out a tale that has the feel of real people and places and real history being made. I am working my way through the series, and although what was recent history when written in 1975 is now almost ancient history, it is a good starting place to enter the world of Paul Christopher and Charles McCarry. Well worthwhile.