Bottom Line Up Top
Thumbnail review: Outstanding entry in series of imaginative genre-blend of SciFi and spy thrillers. Interesting and complex characters, engaging and fluid prose, and an inventive (and suddenly much-too-real) premise combine for a fast, fun read. 5 Stars
My take on Europe In Winter
I cracked open Europe in Winter believing it was the final entry in a trilogy (more on that below). The first book, Europe in Autumn, was a bit uneven at the start but throughout I enjoyed the author’s prose and imaginative dystopian vision of a Europe where borders are in flux and parallel dimensions possible. We met Rudi, a chef turned courier-slash-international spy, and accompanied him on several “Situations” that appeared to be isolated events.
The next book, Europe at Midnight, expanded this world (or should I say, worlds?) wonderfully, introducing new characters and adding some of the puzzle pieces left off the board in the first book. The espionage aspects compared favorably to LeCarre or early Alistair MacLean, with a decidedly British dryness and detachedness. That there was barely any mention of America or it’s citizens pleased my Europhile sensibilities and helped distract me from current events at home.
As my preference is to be as spoiler-free as possible, there aren’t a lot of details I can share about Winter. It opens with a bang, literally, courtesy of a remarkable twist I didn’t see coming. The Community’s secret is out and Europe continues to evolve (recent events in the UK and America become even more unsettling in context) as various entities and states deal with the sudden appearance of a new player on the international scene. There is much more time spent with Rudi than the previous book, as he tries to make sense of the various events to this point. The writing continues to be immersive and the action exciting. Some questions are answered, but others are left unresolved.
That last bit would be a problem for some folks, if this was the series finale. Personally, I’m generally fine not having every little detail spelled out for me (I thought the ending of the movie version of No Country for Old Men was brilliant but I’ve had conversations with those who felt otherwise). Fortunately for everyone, the author has indicated on his blog that a fourth book is planned. Once again, I can’t wait to see what happens next in this inventive series.