The Crook Factory by Dan Simmons
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
OMG. Okay, let's face it. Dan Simmons is a consummate author. Consummate because he does a TON of fantastic research, thorough follow-through, and fantastic characters. Not only that, but he happens to have been one of my favorite authors ever since I read Hyperion back in the day. Since then, he's equally well-known as a hard-SF writer and an epic horror novelist, equally good in either branch....
But then something weird happened. He's been writing historical novels. I didn't quite realize this until now, which makes me kinda an idiot. I read Drood which was all about Dickens and Wilkie Collins, and then there's the Terror and THIS novel. And there's more, obviously.
I'm ... frankly blown away. Drood was everything in Victorian England. This was utterly WWII Cuba. :) HEMINGWAY, FOLKS! As the author names it, 95% of everything in this novel is true, and whatever narrative liberties he makes, it's all for the good.
Ernest Hemingway ran his own spy ring fighting the Nazis in Cuba. Notable persons involved in the tale are Hoover, Ian Flemming, Ingrid Bergman, Gary Cooper, a wide cast of real people I have no idea about, and it all makes for a rollickingly awesome spy tale. :)
For anyone who knows anything about Hemingway, he's a man's man with a lot of animal charisma that shines through not just his fantastic prose, but in his real-life actions. It would be super easy to go on and on about the man, but that's just it. He had a really fascinating life.
Many wives, a lost briefcase of all his early short stories, getting shot up in wars, serving as war correspondents and an ambulance driver, being a huge part of the Lost Generation, being an expatriate, and generally being a superstar literary genius. To be treated with a novelization of his spy ring, tho? The Crook Factory? ...Is something truly extraordinary. :)
But I should mention that this will only appeal to fans of Hemingway, spy fiction in general, WWII buffs, and the positively curious. Otherwise, all this name dropping focus on the man will go to waste. Alas.
Good thing I'm a fan of everything that went on here, right? :)
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