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The Prodigal Spy by Joseph Kanon
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The Prodigal Spy (original 1999; edition 1999)

by Joseph Kanon

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420735,650 (3.58)10
Member:Skaidon
Title:The Prodigal Spy
Authors:Joseph Kanon
Info:Island Books (1999), Mass Market Paperback, 544 pages
Collections:Your library
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The Prodigal Spy by Joseph Kanon (1999)

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» See also 10 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
I adore Kanon's story-telling, but I have to admit that this is my least favorite of those I've read by him, much as I enjoyed some aspects of it. While the characters and story were just as compelling as always, the problem was that I saw one of the twists coming... from the very beginning. So while the characters were, for much of the story, focused on solving one huge question, I was trying to figure out if it was so obvious as I thought it was and they were being idiots, or if the answer was something else entirely. Well, needless to say... I'm afraid I guessed whodunit from the start, even if I didn't wholly know the crime at that point. And, it was frustrating. It is true that there were a number of other twists that came at the end, and that I still enjoyed the story, but at least for me, there's a fair bit of frustration in a reader seeing something pretty clearly when all of the intelligent characters are blind to it--and that somewhat ruined the story for me.

So, would I recommend this? Well, maybe, with that caveat that it's a bit predictable in some respects, though the characters and story-telling are as engrossing as they are in Kanon's other work. Just don't start by reading this by him. His other work is better, simply put. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Sep 30, 2017 |
The writing is excellent. The characters are vivid and the pacing superb. However the plot is contrived, the twists often silly [the same lead character has to be by turns blindly optimistic, blindly credulous, and just plain silly] and the ending is obvious halfway through the book which makes the main suspense guessing how the character will deduce what the reader already knows. Worth a read but probably not worth a second reading. ( )
1 vote agingcow2345 | Jun 23, 2012 |
Sometimes a thriller mystery gets too complicated. You get a brain alarm that says whoa and the story stops dead. You are no longer along for the ride. The characters are doing things too hard for mere mortals. That is when the writer needs to go super hero or magical realism or maybe just do a Vonnegut and bring in the little guys in white suits from outer space.

Kanon tries way too hard with the plot. Anyone who remembers J Edgar will know you cannot get in to see him. Anyone who knows anything about parents and children and Commies will have problems with the hero and his girl and the parents.

But it was fun for two hundred pages. Then I jumped to the end.

If you want this kind of stuff go for le Carré. You cannot beat him. ( )
  kerns222 | Jul 4, 2011 |
Really enjoy the fine writing and storytelling of this author, Joseph Kanon. All his books are superb. This one is about a young man who tries to understand his father, a man accused of being a Communist, who defects to Russia in the 1950's. Story is filled with suspense. ( )
  barb302 | Feb 19, 2011 |
A rewarding cold war thriller ( )
  Tendulkar01 | Mar 4, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0440225345, Mass Market Paperback)

Boyd Gaines (The Heidi Chronicles, She Loves Me) reads The Prodigal Spy in a smooth, even baritone, spouting off sentences with the ease and charm of television game-show host. What's more, his renditions of a McCarthyesque congressman, a sassy young journalist, and a Czech American defector--to name a few--are a treat to hear; not to mention his female impersonations, which would make Terence Stamp from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert envious. A master storyteller and consummate ham, Gaines's award-winning acting shines through, making this edition highly entertaining. (Running time: 6 hours, 5 CDs) --Rebecca Warren

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:31 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

In a time of accusations, treachery and lies, some secrets were heartbreaking.... Others were deadly. Once, Nick Kotlar tried to save his father. From the angry questions. From the accusations. From a piece of evidence that only Nick knew about and that he destroyed--for his father. But in the Red Scare of 1950 Walter Kotlar could not be saved. Branded a spy, he fled the country, leaving behind a wife, a young son--and a key witness lying dead below her D.C. hotel room. Now, twenty years later, Nick will get a second chance. Because a beautiful journalist has brought a message from his long-lost father, and Nick will follow her into Soviet-occupied Prague for a painful reunion. Confronting a father he barely remembers and a secret that could change everything, Nick knows he must return to the place where it all began: to unravel a lie, to penetrate a deadly conspiracy, and to expose the one person who knew the truth--and watched a family be destroyed.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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