The Bookworm by Mitch Silver
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
There are multiple story lines in this novel but I really was only interested in one - Lara the "bookworm," who does research in a Russian archive and is handed these mysterious recordings discovered near a dead body in London. She is uniquely positioned because she is from Russia but studied overseas, and now teaches English. Her brother is an interesting character with ties to the oil industry in Alaska and Russia, and his life is in danger at some point. But along the way there are a lot of minor characters coming and going in the present-day, and some of them prove to be more important than others. Just a few too many, especially on the Russian side.
Then there are the historical story lines like this very convoluted conspiracy involving Hitler, the Russian front, a young JFK, as told on the recordings by Noel Coward, that are somehow connected to the present day dealings between Russia and the "west." I think it gets confusing, not to mention far-fetched.
I just think, in general, that the author is trying to do too much. There are also a lot of super contemporary references, but the perspective of the main characters should feel Russian and I often had to remind myself that they weren't Americans. Then I'd feel like I was rooting for the wrong people. Not the American president who is lying to the American people about the oil deals with Russia but for the Russian scholar who might uncover a secret that would make the world hate America. But wait, I'm American... it's a strange phenomenon, and I rather enjoyed having my head messed with in that way. It's possibly stranger coming from an American author.
Thanks to the publisher for providing early access to this title, which comes out on February 6.
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