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The Company of Strangers


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About the Author

ROBERT WILSON is the author of numerous novels, including The Company of Strangers and A Small Death in Lisbon, which won the Gold Dagger Award as Best Crime Novel of the Year from Britain's Crime Writers' Association. A graduate of Oxford University, he has worked in shipping, advertising, and trading in Africa, and has lived in Greece, Portugal, and West Africa.


This tense thriller from the author of A Small Death in Lisbon (2000) mixes mathematics with wartime intrigue to fine effect. British intelligence hires Andrea Aspinall, a mathematical wunderkind, to make use of her extraordinary gift in hunting atomic secrets. But Andrea disappears in Lisbon, where she adopts a new identity and meets Karl Voss, an attache at the German legation, who's plotting against the Nazis. The action shifts to Portugal and cold-war Berlin, where intrigue and counter-intrigue are routine, until a bleak ending brings the reader up short. The narrative spans the years from WWII to glasnost and the collapse of the Berlin Wall, yet for all the inevitable social commentary the novel remains at heart a conventional sociopolitical thriller with strong echoes of le Carre, Ambler, Deighton and others not to mention Gravity's Rainbow. As the story lengthens and the calendar pages fall away, suspense inevitably slackens, though for the most part the novel remains supremely readable. Wilson's spare prose style never becomes skeletal, and the characters, while lightly sketched, remain believable. The author portrays Andrea in particular with sympathy and insight, and adumbrates her remarkable ability early on when she describes what might be called the joys of mathematics: "The number six... has three divisors one, two and three which if added together come to... six. Isn't that perfect?" The verdict: an evocative and compelling thriller. 5-city author tour; 75,000 first printing. (Oct. 19) Forecast: After the success of A Small Death in Lisbon, winner of Britain's CWA Gold Dagger Award, a lot is riding on this follow-up; expect sales to exceed those of the previous novel. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

This uneven but ultimately satisfying novel follows the life of Andrea Aspinalt, recruited by British intelligence to gather secrets in Lisbon near the end of World War II. Following a disastrous affair with Karl Voss, the German military attachE, a relationship that apparently results in his execution, Andrea marries a Portuguese major. When her husband and son both die fighting in the colonial wars in Africa in 1968, Andrea returns to London. She becomes involved with Communists, returns to work for the SIS, and is sent on a risky mission to East Berlin, where traitors abound and long-held secrets hold their own risks. Wilson, award-winning author of A Small Death in Lisbon returns to the same atmospheric settings in Portugal (where he is at his best) and Germany, but the Byzantine plot and half-century time span detract from the penetrating analysis of the human heart that makes this novel worth reading. Recommended for larger public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/01.]Ronnie H. Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Wilson here sticks with what worked so well in his stylish debut, A Small Death in Lisbon, crafting a thriller that moves from the outer edges of the Third Reich to postwar Berlin. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

[The Company of Strangers] is streets ahead of most other thrillers.-The Times (London)

A plotter's delight . . . [Wilson] creates an intriguing moral maze for his heroine to negotiate.-The Guardian (London) PRAISE FOR A SMALL DEATH IN LISBON
Winner of the Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel Robert Wilson's A Small Death in Lisbon turns a local murder case into a taut international thriller . . . with considerable, nailbaiting skill.-Time A tour de force.-Los Angeles Times Historically sprawling, richly distilled thriller . . . The whole is a suspenseful, intricately plotted, violent and steamy tale. You will turn the last page of this compelling novel out of breath.-The New York Times

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