Thursday, 25 October 2018

#BlogTour Paris in the Dark by Robert Olen Butler

Today it's my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Paris in the Dark by Robert Olen Butler.
Butler does an excellent job of adding the complexity, trauma and pain of war to this subtle spy story.

About the Author
Robert Olen Butler is one of America’s most highly regarded writers, having published 17 novels, 6 short story collections, and a book on the creative process. Among his numerous awards is the Pulitzer Prize which he won for A Good Scent for a Strange Mountain.

Four of his novels are historical espionage thrillers in the Christopher Marlowe Cobb series, a character far closer to Robert than any other he has written. Like ‘Kit’ Cobb, Robert also went to war, was part of the military intelligence and a reporter and editor at an investigative business newspaper. Robert is also a widely admired and sought after university teacher of creative writing and counts among his former students another Pulitzer Prize winner.
Follow @RobtOlenButler @noexitpress on Twitter
Buy Paris in the Dark

About the book
AUTUMN 1915. The First World War is raging across Europe. Woodrow Wilson has kept Americans out of the trenches, although that hasn’t stopped young men and women from crossing the Atlantic to volunteer at the front.

Christopher Marlowe ‘Kit’ Cobb, a Chicago reporter and undercover agent for the US government is in Paris when he meets an enigmatic nurse called Louise. Officially in the city for a story about American ambulance drivers, Cobb is grateful for the opportunity to get to know her but soon his intelligence handler, James Polk Trask, extends his mission. Parisians are meeting ‘death by dynamite’ in a new campaign of bombings, and the German-speaking Kit seems just the man to discover who is behind this – possibly a German operative who has infiltrated with the waves of refugees? And so begins a pursuit that will test Kit Cobb, in all his roles, to the very limits of his principles, wits and talents for survival.

Fleetly plotted and engaging with political and cultural issues that resonate deeply today, Paris in the Dark is the finest novel yet in this riveting series.

It's been a while since I have read a spy story in a war setting. It is almost like revisiting an old friend or neighbourhood. Even the title speaks to the unwritten stories we keep hidden in our lives. The moments we spend alone watching others in silence. The unaccounted forgotten minutes and seconds in time when we are either at one with ourselves or find it difficult to resign ourselves to the reality of who we are.

Butler makes it seem easy, this writing malarkey, a seemingly effortless venture into the world of a man who has many faces and personalities. Kit Cobb is aware of his duplicity on a conscious level, because it is a both a career and choice of conscience, but on a more subconscious level he is unaware of how fragile a tightrope he may be walking.

On the surface he is an American journalist reporting on the hidden stories in war-torn countries. His other role, and certainly the more vital one in this environment, is as a spy. A man who can meld into a crowd of Germans with ease and in the next moment manipulate a variety of different government operatives.

He is looking for a needle in a haystack - a bomber in the middle of Paris. A person who wants to cause destruction, death and confusion amongst the Allies and the Parisians. His contacts lead him straight to a den of Huns, who at a first glance have every reason to fight their own battle in the Great War from the inside out. Hidden in plain sight, and usually above every suspicion. It doesn't take Cobb long to find out that there is definitely a needle, however it may be the wrong kind of needle in this particular haystack.

Butler does an excellent job of adding the complexity, trauma and pain of war to this subtle spy story. In fact it is so secondary the reader just takes it on board automatically. It's a well-written smooth story that draws you in without you realising. It captures your attention and reels you in slowly, which is part of Butler's skill.

Buy Paris in the Dark at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: No Exit Press, Pub. date: 25 October 2018

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