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Shake Off by Mischa Hiller
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Shake Off (edition 2012)

by Mischa Hiller

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4615251,994 (3.5)8
Member:BrianEWilliams
Title:Shake Off
Authors:Mischa Hiller
Info:Mulholland Books (2012), Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Early Reviewer, thriller

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Shake Off by Mischa Hiller

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"Shake Off" (SO) is the second of Mischa Hiller's two novels. SO is about a young Palestinian man who was recruited some years ago by Abu Leila, following the murder of Michel's parents in a refugee camp. Abu has seen to Michel's training, both in spycraft and languages for which Michel has a natural talent. His training and early assignments lead him to Berlin, Moscow, and other capitals. Finally, he settles in a London bedsit awaiting his next assignment. He quickly meets the girl next door, a doll, to whom he is strongly attracted. He has been trained to limit his romances to no more than a week, but Helen is something else. And then there are assignments, and slip-ups, and the competition. Following a surprise assassination, Michele is on the run, and there is a betrayal - whom can he trust? Who is it that he really works for? An excellent novel, one of the better spy novels I have read in the last five years. I look forward to more from Hiller. ( )
  maneekuhi | Sep 23, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I struggled to get into this novel, despite a longstanding affection for thrillers, mysteries and espionage yarns. This one, despite a very promising premise, plods, ambles and meanders. Perhaps the details of tradecraft and all the routine precautions of Michel's existence is more like what day-to-day life is like for a 'real' spy, but if you're more than 100 pages into the book (as I was) and still have no idea of what the point is and are wondering whether it will ever pick up, that's a sign of trouble.

Yes, it eventually got a bit better, but never really delivered on the promise implied by the fact that the spy in question is working for the Palestinians, and trained by the Soviets, while working undercover in London and then finding himself on the run. That should have made for drama and a book that was at least somewhat hard to put down. Instead, I kept putting it down and forgetting to pick it up again. Yes, the writing is very good, which boosts it from a 2/2.5 star rating. The pacing, however, is a real problem -- and that's coming from a reader with a high tolerance for character-driven novels. 3.2 stars. I don't need formulaic poorly-written novels, but I also can't imagine what might prompt me to pick up this book for a re-read. Had it not been an Early Review book, probably wouldn't have finished it at all. ( )
  Chatterbox | Feb 4, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is the first time I've read a spy story told from a non-American perspective and it was quite good. It was a well-written and told story. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the spy genre.
  Myckyee | Jan 27, 2013 |
If you train someone to be a spy, don't be surprised if you can't find him when he runs off. ( )
  picardyrose | Dec 30, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a really entertaining spy thriller, set in the late 1980's. The story is told though Michel, a young Palestinian man who was orphaned in the 1982 attacks on the refugee camps in Beirut. He is taken in by a Lebanese family and educated. A mysterious "uncle" enters his life and he is sent to Cyprus and then Germany to finish his education. At the same time he is trained in the black arts of the professional spy. Michel thinks he is advancing the Palestinian cause and working for the PLO as he carries out missions for his handler couriering documents and laundering money. His world changes dramatically when his "uncle" who became his handler, is shot down in the street in Berlin. After that, Michel is chased throughout Europe by Israeli Mossad agents who are after a document that Michel obtained from a courier. It's an exciting chase that eventually leads to Scotland and a surprising revelation about Michel's handler. There's even a happy ending, which seemed unlikely. I highly recommend this book, especially to fans of spy thrillers. Also, it provides a rarely heard perspective on the ongoing Palestinian struggle with Israel.

I received my copy of the through the Early Reviewer program. ( )
  BrianEWilliams | Dec 8, 2012 |
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Epigraph
intifada
/intea'fada/
[Origin: Arabic intifada lit., a shaking off, der. of fada to shake off]

An uprising by Palestinians to protest against Israel's occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Dedication
For my parents
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Nobody was there to meet me.
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Posing as a grad student, skilled intelligence operative Michel Khoury begins a relationship with a pretty English girl from his apartment building until the secrets he is keeping send the couple running for their lives through London, Berlin, and Scotland.… (more)

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