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Showing 1-10 of 150 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 202 reviews
on October 10, 2016
This book is a contemporary masterpiece, an epic of wars and massacre, deceptions and self-deceptions, of love and hope and sex, of deceit and manipulation, of disillusion and illusions, multiple perspectives of life, suffering, disassociation, and moments of total clarity. The plot jumps back and forth in time, countries, and people, from the end of World War II to the present, from war torn countries of Haiti, Dubrovnik, and Istanbul to the US, from the upbringing of a young girl by a spy/charming/ manipulative father to the men in her life
This book is haunting, dark, and compelling with just enough touches of poignant sensitivity and sensualitiy to leave the reader with a bit of hope. The author's use of language is supreme.
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on December 2, 2013
I've read most of Bob Shacochis's work over the years and as someone who has spent more than half of my 52 years on this planet, growing up, living and working in the Caribbean islands, I have always had a deep respect for his insight into island life as it truly exists under the touristy surface.

As a previous reviewer has already said, I didn't see this one coming. I would suggest that this is Mr. Shacochis' masterwork. As a reader, you are pulled from Haiti to East Europe to Turkey and beyond until the full picture of a complex and dark life finally fits together. The prose are not pretentious but Mr. Shacochis gives full and free rein to his considerable descriptive abilities. I find it always takes me awhile to get used to his characters speech being delivered as part of the narrative as opposed the standard quoted style but this is integral part of the style and gets easier as one goes along. This is not an accelerated pulp thriller but it is a page turner nonetheless. Not for everyone, I am sure but highly recommended.
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Tom Harrington is a human rights lawyer, who travels the globe. He is asked by a friend of a friend to investigate the death of a woman in Haiti. This starts a long, convoluted trail of discoveries, that become so complex that it took all my energy to continue, thus a 4 star review, much, much, too long.

The woman known as Dorothy Kovacevic, Renee Gardner, Dorothy Chambers and finally known asJackie Scott. It seems she was a daughter of a Balkan battlefield survivor in World War II, who's become an American spy chief. She's a beautiful woman, full of intelligence and strength. She was involved now and again with the spy world. The story starts at the end of her life in Haiti in the late 1990s.

We meet her during many aspects if her life., married to a criminal who works for American intelligence. We go back to the Balkans and her father's childhood. And then move to Istanbul, where she is involved in a plot that dirties her and her family. The layers upon layers of the life of this one woman becomes unraveled.

What we have here is this woman involved with the men in this story. The men involved with Intelligence, and the reality of their world is frightening, indeed. This one woman and the investigation into her life, exposes the intelligence world, and an unseemly and frightening world that is. Exquisite writing, but much too long. Have patience.

Recommended. prisrob 10_03-13
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on May 21, 2014
Ambitious, this novel begins in Haiti after the American forces have left Haiti, begins as the story of a human rights lawyer, Tom Harrington, who is sent to Haiti to investigate the death of the wife of an American. The story turns into a multi-layered story of the woman and her various identities. Going back to post-World War II Bosnia and the escape of Jackie’s father to America the story shows how her father a US spy has so influenced her. During her childhood spend in Turkey, her father basically groomed her to become a spy, and her first official espionage at her father’s behest was not pretty. Add a Special Forces soldier to the mix, and you have a story filled with military and espionage jargon which was too much for me. Even so I enjoyed this story much more than I expected because it gave me a look at what has brought us to current American foreign policy.
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John Le Carre said, "Once you've lived the inside-out world of espionage, you never shed it. It's a mentality, a double standard of existence."

This is one of the essential themes of Shacochis' epic novel, one that goes back in forth in time from 1944 to around 2000, a book not just about spies, but about the kind of disposition it takes to become a spy. This is the first book I've read since Norman Mailer's HARLOT'S GHOST and a few John Banville novels that prick the surface of the psychological complexion of those who must function with different identities.

"...the warrior must descend all the way into his body and soul and live in that gap where the worlds fall apart."

This isn't the glamour of 007 or the shallow "coolness" of espionage and its many boilerplate novels; it lures you into the self-annihilation of the personality, and how one can get lost in multiple identities, or playing multiple sides of an operation.

"...that self would be a solitary creation, patented and inviolable, cobbled together and pounded into shape from its kaleidoscopic shamble of bits and pieces."

Too, it digs deep into the etiology of the players of this world and their unnerving pasts that led to becoming what was, for them, an organic inevitability.

Moreover, it is about a complicated relationship of a father and daughter within the Gordian knot of the espionage world. OK, and more than that, it demonstrates the invisible identities of other personalities who hover just outside the vortex of this world, those who are used or exploited or carry baggage from touching down on the cabalistic type of population of those living undercover.

The novel is divided into five "Books" of unequal length, with Book Three being the longest. I hesitate to talk about the events of the novel, because the best way to read this book is fresh and unmolested by a lot of plot points.

Book One takes place in Haiti, and begins when a humanitarian lawyer, Tom Harrington, reluctantly goes there with a retired detective to investigate the murder of a photojournalist, whose husband is being detained for her murder. Book One starts strong but, when I finished it, I wasn't sure that this book would hold my interest for another 500 pages. It seemed to dissipate by its end, and except for the fascinating vodou ceremony and a startling hotel scene, evanesced in energy and characterizations. However, I urge you to stick around, as the subsequent Books will not only fill in the ellipses of the first book, but also enhance it in retrospect.

Book Two, the shortest of the five, goes back to Croatia 1944, and focuses on the father of the photojournalist from Book One, and his harrowing escape as a small boy with his mother, from a war-torn homeland. Book Two is written in a very masculine, muscular style, and is graphic and bloody from beginning to end.

Book Three, the 1980's Istanbul, is the most accessible, because it focuses on the father-daughter relationship, and has a more domestic and familiar type of narrative. It is filled with bracing realizations that kept me riveted and mesmerized throughout. The captivating scenes of Istanbul, a place I have never been, were so vivid and lucid that I felt like I was sailing the Bosphorus Strait.

Book Four and Five highlight Eville Burnette, a gutsy soldier introduced in Book One. It also winds up the other stories and characters and allows for a lot of reflection and meditation of the book as a whole. I can still hear the echoes of this book, like the thunderclap of the ocean, its distant roar, the whispered susurrus of the waves touching the shore. It pulled me in, sometimes receded from me, as scenes from the narrative crested and ebbed, shadowed and eclipsed. It's about duality, identity, humanity, love--and where love resides, and the space within our hearts to accept it, and the nature of our souls.

"...perhaps a soul is what you have spent your life making, not a piece of equipment shipped ready-made from the factory, another myth like original sin, which you were outfitted with at birth and could somehow lose, like men high and low somehow lost their humanity..."
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on April 11, 2015
This is one great big gigantic book! With over 700 pages, seperated into five books, I read the first 200 pages mainly because I paid $9.00 for the download. Dottie, in 1990's Haiti feels that she has lost her soul and I simply could not have cared less. Book Two travels back in time to 1944 Croatia and tells the story of her father and his parents. Only then did I start to view Dottie diferently and understood how she became the person she was. At that point I was hooked and loved the rest of the book. Although not necessary, it helps to have an understanding of occupied Haiti, WWII Croatia & Cold War Era Istanbul, along with American foreign policy. This is a book of war, an espionage thriller & a sniper tale mixed with love, family and just a little bit of Voodoo.
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on November 3, 2013
It took about 6 weeks to finish. The author has chops, maybe too many and over cooked. The first part in Haiti took forever. The next parts were faster but still a slow read. I understand the bigger issues involved and some of the plot which ranges far and wide. Intellectually stimulating at times, but maybe to an extreme degree for many readers. Maybe I was rooting for Ev, but no one else captured my concern enough to care for.
I feel an accomplishment in finishing this behemoth, maybe one of these every few years will satisfy my need to be challenged by a read.
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on September 1, 2014
This is a great book. At first I found it disjointed and the characters were not very like able. But as I got into the book, things began to come together and this fantastic, multi layered story started to unfold. The writing is sooo beautiful. The sentence structure is long and complicated but the pictures painted are terrific. This book has everything, spies, black ops, sex, patriotism, and many kinds of love stories.
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on May 31, 2014
This is a great book! I knew from the first page the writing was going to be brilliant. And it was. The story takes you from the Balkans at the end of WWII, to Haiti in the 80's, to Istanbul. Well-drawn characters are involved in black ops, drug trafficking, and manipulating political outcomes in countries other than their own. I will admit it gets a little complicated and confusing at times as to where in time the action is taking place but it's worth the effort to hang in there and figure it out. The writing raises this book to another level from your run-of-the-mill spy thriller. But don't let that fool you. The thrills, mystery, and suspense are all there.
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on September 18, 2014
This book had some very interesting angles to the story. The adventures were realistic. The main characters interesting. However, I felt the book was too long and that the need to pull the characters together made the plot too complex. I still assign four stars because some parts were extremely interesting but not all. My writing has always been of a technical nature so I am not well qualified to critique a fiction work. Still, I will say this, a cut of 200-300 pages would have made a tighter story even though the uthor would have had to give up some back story. But that's just me. I still enjoyed it.
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