three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
30-Sept-Oct-2007
user_rating: 
0

A-Christopher’s GhostsIn 1939 Berlin, teenaged Paul Christopher and his parents are caught sneaking Jews out of the country and are branded enemies of the state by the sadistic, deranged Major Stutzer. When Paul embarks on a forbidden romance with a Jewish girl, she, too, finds herself at the mercy of the cruel SS officer. The Christophers smuggle their son out of Nazi Germany just as war breaks out across Europe—and are never heard from again. Twenty years later, Paul, now a CIA operative, recognizes Stutzer on a dark East German street and pursues him, bent on revenge, but Stutzer has devious plans of his own for the cunning agent.
Overlook. 272 pages. $25. ISBN: 1585679143

San Antonio Exp-News 4 of 5 Stars
"He writes with precise attention to detail yet manages to encompass the big picture of the bloodiest century in history, avoiding unnecessary drama and excessive heroics. This is the way it really was, the reader thinks upon digesting a McCarry book, which is the finest compliment that can be paid any novelist." Steve Bennett

Seattle Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Christopher’s Ghosts … adds to McCarry’s chronicle of Paul Christopher, the spy at the center of a sprawling intergenerational saga. With this dazzling new book, another piece of the puzzle snaps cleverly into place." Adam Woog

Tampa Tribune 4 of 5 Stars
"Among the gifts Christopher’s Ghosts offers—a moving look at first love, spy thrills, entertaining characters—what most stays with the reader are the horrors a totalitarian regime unleashes on its citizens." Kevin Walker

Los Angeles Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The cat-and-mouse chase between the two men and their ultimate showdown proceeds at a breathless, frenetic pace that hits all the marks of the best Cold War thrillers but somehow lacks the transcendence of the book’s first half. It’s almost as if two different books had been grafted together, the first an excruciatingly tense ode to a time gone by, the second a pure historical thriller." Denise Hamilton

Richmond Times-Dispatch 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Now, with McCarry’s latest, Christopher’s Ghosts … we see what kind of past it takes to mold a spymaster. … McCarry’s ability to mix intrigue with cold revenge is an irresistible formula for any thriller fan." Francis W. Decker

Washington Post 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The story is rich in suspense, colorful characters, sudden surprises and detail. … McCarry’s idealization of Christopher can be annoying, but it’s the price we pay for the writer’s silken prose and his insights into the world of espionage." Patrick Anderson

Washington Times 3 of 5 Stars
"Although, on balance, he certainly does a serviceable job all the way through, parts of the book set in Nazi Germany are weaker than his writing about Paul Christopher as an adult spy. … Mr. McCarry’s writing at its best verges on literature and this book, like others he has written, does a superb job of depicting a vision of the time when American intelligence bridged the gap between the end of World War II and the end of the Cold War." Steve Hirsch

Critical Summary

In his tenth book featuring CIA agent Paul Christopher, Charles McCarry delves into Christopher’s past, answering some of the questions which have tantalized readers for decades. Overall, the critics were pleased with this latest addition to Christopher’s story. Though they claimed it was not McCarry’s best work, they repeatedly cited his elegant writing, fascinating characters, and his ability to elicit the utmost tension from every scene. They disagreed over the two parts of the book—the first, set in Berlin in 1939, and the second, set in East Berlin in 1959. Some preferred the earlier, heartrending tale of love found and lost, while others favored the pulse-pounding adventure of the latter half. Both, however, will have readers on the edge of their seats.

Also by the Author

The Tears of Autumn A Paul Christopher Novel (1975): Considered by critics to be the best of the Paul Christopher novels, this action-packed tour de force charts Christopher’s search for the devastating truth behind President Kennedy’s assassination.