Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Shift ahead a few years and a slightly less populated world, drop in a fascinating collection of european characters from Poland, Hungary, Germany, England, and much more, and give us the origin story of Rudi, the cook turned Courier, sold a bill of sale about countries without borders, give him the basics of spycraft, and lie, lie, and lie some more.
And that's just the beginning.
This is a rather deep and detailed look at parts of the world I have little experience in, even though I'm a fan of spy movies, obscure horrors, and thrillers of all types. By all rights, I might have had a harder time with this novel, but I was very fortunate. I really like Rudi. The kid was really put through the wringer. Where he goes when he decides to take his destiny in his own hands is where the novel gets really interesting.
I did have some issues with how the narrative started looking at Rudi from the outside or as a stranger, with short Vignettes, but when each of those outside PoV's started tying together into a very incomplete, but still extremely interesting picture of a grand conspiracy of polities and information assets going after a goal that is still unclear, I still don't mind.
I should. I really ought to mind, especially since the novel doesn't get tied up with bow at the end, but the picture, the map I'm forced to draw of the situation, happens to be very revealing and satisfying, even if it doesn't fit the standard structure for novelizations. It's obviously just the beginning of a series, but it gave enough payoff to the reader, enough meat, and real food for thought, that it still *felt* like a good ending.
Isn't that odd? Some sort of magic happened, here.
There are some good techo-geekery going on in the novel, but it's generally sparse and always in the service to the tale, never the other way around. No macguffins. The focus is all on people, and what can I say? I appreciate it. The other stuff is too obvious and too cliché. This is a return to the roots of the spy novel, and it really sucked me in. :)
I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series. :)
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