Thursday, November 15, 2007

Charles McCarry: Christopher's Ghosts

In Christopher’s Ghosts by Charles McCarry we meet Paul Christopher as a 16 year old in Berlin in 1939. With an American father and a German mother and an American passport you might think he would be somewhat protected from Nazi abuses. But his family is no friend to the Nazis. So the Nazis, at personified by Gestapo officer Franz Stutzer, push hard on his family. Surprisingly, it seems that his German mother provides more protection than his American passport.

The first half of the book deals with love and tribulation for the 16 year old boy. Set in bad times, it makes a very interesting story. But the times do not lend themselves to happy endings.

We jump to 20 years later when Christopher, currently working for the OSS, encounters Stutzer by chance. The remained of the book puts a Cold War context on their conflict.

The second half spy story did not seem as gripping to me as the first half coming of age story. The story did not seem to flow as logically. Christopher kept getting his chances at Stutzer, but each time McCarry initiated the contact it felt too coincidental. I know why Christopher wanted to get to Stutzer, I just had trouble understanding why he kept getting chances.

Overall it was a good book and I’m glad to have read it.

I had never read anything by McCarry before, and until after I finished the book, I did not realize that Paul Christopher is a regular character of his. I did like the guy, so I should probably try one of his earlier stories to see if I like the spy story any better. I do, after all, like spy stories.

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