The Company of Strangers

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( 848 ratings by GoodReads )
9780002326698: The Company of Strangers

A major new thriller, moving from wartime Portugal to the fall of the Berlin Wall, from the Gold Dagger Award-winning author of A Small Death in Lisbon.

Lisbon 1944. In the torrid summer heat, as the streets of the capital seethe with spies and informers, the endgame of the Intelligence war is being silently fought. The Germans have rocket technology and atomic know-how. The Allies are determined that talk of the ultimate ‘secret weapon’ will not be realized.

Andrea Aspinall, mathematician and spy, enters this sophisticated world through a wealthy household in Estoril. Karl Voss, military attaché to the German Legation, has arrived embittered by his implication in the murder of a Reichsminister and traumatized by Stalingrad, on a mission to rescue Germany from annihilation.

In the lethal tranquility of a corrupted paradise, Andrea and Voss meet and attempt to find love in a world where no-one can be believed. After a night of terrible violence Andrea is left with a secret which perpetuates a lifelong addiction to the clandestine world, from the brutal Portuguese fascist régime to the paranoia of Cold War Germany. And there, in an ice-gripped East Berlin, as she discovers that the deepest secrets aren’t held by governments but by those closest to you, she is forced to make the final and the hardest choice.

A consummate and passionate thriller, spanning Europe from the dark days of World War Two to the collapse of the Berlin Wall, by the Gold Dagger winning author of A Small Death in Lisbon.

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This tale of divided loyalties and a bitter war fought behind polite façades is Wilson's most ambitious and sprawling novel yet, set in the stupefying heat of Lisbon in 1944. We are vividly shown a city that echoes Bogart's Casablanca, where spies and informers make every conversation a minefield. The Germans have developed rocket technology, and are on the brink of atomic breakthrough. The allies are keen to stop the German secret weapon, and their operative is Andrea Aspinall, a young mathematician struggling to come to terms with the sophisticated world in which she finds herself. Andrea meets Karl Voss, a military attaché to the German legation, who is embittered and compromised by his part in the death the Reichsminister, and traumatised by the death of his beloved brother in Stalingrad. This ill-assorted couple attempts to forge a relationship in a world of treachery and death. After a terrifying climax, the novel moves to the paranoid world of Cold War Germany, and Andrea finds that she must make grim choices in a snowbound East Berlin.

Wilson tackles his epic canvas with the kind of assurance that is no surprise to his admirers, and at nearly 500 pages, this is truly a book of ambitious reach. But Wilson's speciality is, of course, characterisation, and both Andrea and Voss are painted with the utmost subtlety and intelligence. Andrea's development from naive young girl to the woman that war makes of her is very sharply handled. It must be said, though, that this may not be the best novel for those new to Wilson: after a mesmerising opening scene with Voss watching Hitler's madness infect those around him, the author undoubtedly takes his time to create his minutely detailed world, and the tautness of the early books is replaced by a more leisurely inclusiveness reminiscent of late le Carré. But those who allow themselves to fall under the author's Ancient Mariner-like spell will find this among his most rewarding and complex novels. --Barry Forshaw


‘Displaying once again Wilson’s gifts for atmospheric depiction of place, this ambitious experiment is streets ahead of most other thrillers’ John Dugdale, Sunday Times

‘With Company of Strangers Wilson again shows himself to be one of our finest writers and a storyteller with few equals’ Jim Driver, Time Out

‘Immensely enjoyable and entertaining’ Allan Massie, Scotsman

‘Wilson employs a slightly out-of-focus prose style that eminently suits his tale of intrigue and double-dealing … watch his star, for it is surely in the ascendent’ Vincent Banville, Irish Times

‘Wilson’s tale is a plotter’s delight: spanning several decades and cleverly reworking past narratives in the light of new evidence, he creates an intriguing moral maze for his heroine to negotiate – and a puzzle of metaphors to match (he’s a better stylist than du Maurier). Recommended’ Chris Petit, Guardian

‘A big, meaty novel of love and deceit … with this novel Wilson vaults to the front-rank of thriller writers’ Peter Guttridge, Observer

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Wilson, Robert
Published by HarperCollins (2001)
ISBN 10: 0002326698 ISBN 13: 9780002326698
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Irish Booksellers
(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)

Book Description HarperCollins, 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 2326698

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