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The Miernik Dossier by Charles McCarry

The Miernik Dossier (1973)

by Charles McCarry

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3021056,335 (3.9)20
  1. 10
    The Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry (bcquinnsmom)
  2. 00
    The Anderson Tapes by Lawrence Sanders (JohnWCuluris)
    JohnWCuluris: Similar in concept--using transcripts to tell the story--though obviously Anderson is crime and Miernik is espionage.

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
An epistolary spy novel told in dispatches and field reports from 1972 right at the heart of the Cold War. This was sophisticated and witty and charming and sexy. I forget that the Cold War was often fought by people who had experienced real war. In this crazy narrative American spies work alongside African princes and concentration camp survivors in a plot concerning Russian sponsorship of a Communist uprising in the Sudan. It never felt like it should work as a novel but it came together more satisfyingly than thought it might. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
This time I was not as dubious. The first time I encountered a novel fashioned solely of various reports from a variety of sources, it was a book called The Anderson Tapes by Lawrence Sanders, and I responded, in part, with: “I have to admit I had my doubts: a novel told entirely through the transcripts of various wiretaps? I had forgotten that this man was a master of the form.” This is my first exposure to Charles McCarry but apparently he was as equally accomplished.

The story begins with Tadeusz Miernik and his small group of friends, all associated with the World Research Organization, an agency of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The year is sometime around 1959 (though the book was written in 1973) and the middle of the cold war era makes the WRO the perfect environment for deep-cover spies. Most of this group are exactly that--and each automatically assume the same of the others. The African, a prince of a Sudanese Muslim sect, is legitimate. As is the Pakistani, who drops out of the story quickly. The American, the Englishman and the Frenchman are all spies, and along with their superiors and allies, it is their reports that make up the “dossier” of the title. The initial question is whether Miernik, apparently in fear of being forced to return home to Russia-occupied Poland, is also an operative.

The cast promptly expands to include relatives, lovers and old family friends, not all of whom are innocent. Simultaneously the story expands to include road trips, defections and a terrorist organization. And we follow along as these various levels of espionage interconnect.

Following isn’t always easy. A Russian enforcer and an ally of Miernik’s have similar names. As do an informant among the terrorist and the Chief Inspector who is hunting them. And the ending doesn’t clear up everything. With the last, though, some of the fault may be mine; I am a slow and not-always-continuous reader. I may have missed something.

I recommend the work anyway. McCarry effortlessly displayed significant depth of character, and did so in spite of the impersonal means of communication inherent in the novel’s concept. In the end--even with some things left unexplained--I enjoyed having traveled with these characters. ( )
  JohnWCuluris | Sep 24, 2016 |
I love McCarry's writing and this one does not disappoint. The road trip depicted in this book starts in Europe and end up in North Africa. Quite a strange cast of characters each spying on each other. ( )
  EctopicBrain | Dec 4, 2012 |
Charles McCarry is a master of the spy novel. In this novel he introduces his readers to Paul Christopher, an American agent. What I think makes this book stand out is the device McCarry uses to tell the story, a dossier of one of the characters. Using this format allows the story to be told from numerous perspectives. ( )
  cacky | May 28, 2011 |
Certainly above average spy fiction, constructed as an agglomeration of field notes, diary entries, transcripts of interviews, surreptitious tapings: all designed to advance the story while conveying maximum ambiguity. In books like this, relatively complicated mousetrap fictions, it’s amazing how fragile the illusion can be; a single slip, whether a typo or a momentary lapse of memory on the part of the author, can shatter the sense of verisimilitude. For example, at one point, a date is given as 1966, when the context clearly indicates that it should be 1956. I’m convinced it’s a typo. Yet, there’s just a chance that the date could be 1966, and, if it is, it’s not hard for the reader to construct an alternate interpretation of an important secondary character. Regardless, the suspension of disbelief is dissolved and the reader is just a little bit more mistrustful everything that comes next. ( )
  jburlinson | Feb 13, 2010 |
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The attached dossier is submitted to the Committee in response to the request by its Chairman for "a complete picture of a typical operation".
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451160649, Mass Market Paperback)

In The Miernik Dossier, five international agents embark on a car trip in a Cadillac, traveling from Switzerland to the Sudan. Among them is Tadeusz Miernik, the shy and bumbling Polish scientist who might be the leader of a terror force that could set the Cold War aflame.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:59 -0400)

A small group of international agents embark on a car trip from Switzerland to the Sudan, a journey marked by the actions of one of the travelers, who might be the leader of a terrorist group responsible for starting the Cold War.

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