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The Venetian Affair Paperback – June 18, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
It's old-fashioned, of course; it's actually very dated. (At one point, the hero warns the heroine that the villains they're up against are much, much worse than Nazis--they're COMMUNISTS!!!) And the villains' diabolical plot (assassinating Charles de Gaulle) was done much better a few years later, in The Day of the Jackal. But I can tell you with authority that you'll rarely read better descriptions of Venice. After I read it, I went looking for the actual locations in the story, and they all looked, sounded, and smelled exactly the way she described them. The hero is gallant, the heroine is lovely, the villains are nefarious (they're COMMUNISTS!!!), and the suspense is nonstop.
Helen MacInnes was a big star in espionage fiction, but today she's all but forgotten. Her books are out of print, and that's a shame. They're great fun to read, and this one has a special place in my heart. If you can find a copy, try it.
THE VENETIAN AFFAIR is one of her best, written in the peak of the Cold War and the peak of her career. A resourceful, intelligent amateur gets into a situation where a skilled agent would fear to tread, and then manages with luck and pluck to get back out again. Several of the characters are continued in THE DOUBLE IMAGE (a better novel, but only by the smallest of margins).
Try it ... you'll like it.
In the 90's I lost 2/3 of my library in a flood, including all my hardcover and first editions of her books, and was appalled that I couldn't replace them because she had been allowed to slip out of print. I watched for reprints with less hope than with a morbid picking at the scab of my loss until that incredible day when I discovered they were being released in Kindle formats.
"Ecstatic" comes nowhere near describing my reaction. The Venetian Affair remains one of my favorites.
First, know what you're getting with Helen MacInnes (Highet). She was a Scotswoman by birth, grew up during the Depression, and was a new bride at the outbreak of WWII. Those experiences gave her the kind of unshakable faith in right and wrong that is so characteristic of the "Greatest Generation." Don't expect moral ambivalence, or wishy-washy excuse-making from MacInnes. Indeed, one of her best (and as of now still unavailable) books is titled, "Neither Five Nor Three." It's a poke in the eye of the moral equivalizers: "To think that two and two are four, and neither five nor three, the heart of man has long been sore, and long 'tis like to be." In other words, some things really ARE black and white.
Her books all deal with ordinary people finding themselves in extraordinary circumstances.Read more ›
But then the coincidences happen thick and fast. I'll take one, or even two, as possible, but not all the ones MacInnes drops into this story. It really spoiled it for me. And I don't even think they were necessary. It's even very odd that the story takes place in Venice when the plot itself involves France. I don't want to name all the coincidences because I don't want to spoil the book for readers, but you will find then throughout the book.
I like MacInnes for her description of place, though I must admit I had trouble following her through the canals and calles of Venice. And even though we no longer live in the same Cold War world, this just makes the book historical. I am also amused by how much our view of the role of women has changed since the early 1960s. But none of this is a criticism.
I debated between 3 stars and 4, but this is really not one of MacInnes's best. For someone who has never read her or who wonders where to start in rereading her, try Agent in Place. No romance but a much better spy story. And don't be put off by the fact that half a century ago authors used more words in telling a story!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great portion of the plot was a days-long chase. Character development was good, as well as the growing attraction between two main characters. Entertaining story.Published 2 months ago by Clae Maxwell
I'm pretty sure I will like all MacInnes novels. She's good, but having read 10 or 11 now in fairly short order, I have to stop for a while. Read morePublished 3 months ago by David H. Eisenberg
This was a good read. Macinnes is an excellent writer... very descriptive. Plot was good, but a bit predictable and characters could have been a little more developed... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Michael C. Runyan
This a wonderful spy thriller, even if it is 50 years old. Her characters have great depth, and I find that I really like them and was interested in them. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Linda B.
She is a classic writer of suspense intrigue couple with some romance but where common people are thrown into uncommon spots. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Ed
I had read the book years ago.... But the world has changed and many better books.Published 11 months ago by Kindle Customer