Saturday, May 10, 2014

Too much hype

By Robert Harris

The West is still pretty gung-ho over its victory in the Cold War, so much so that it wastes no opportunity to rub it in. In the world of politics, that manifests as NATO's relentless expansion into Russian border-states. In the world of literature, it manifests as Archangel, Robert Harris' third novel that was mostly a disappointment, in contradiction to the fairly good reviews I have read about it.

A rather unbelievable journey of a British historian through the streets of post-Soviet Union Moscow that leads him high into Russia's Arctic tundra only to discover the greatest secret of that dictator, Josef V Stalin. One thing I can say about Harris is that, unlike Dan Brown, he does not promise the moon and then run away - his stories build up the suspense and do lead to something big, however unbelievable. That was most perfectly captured in The Ghost. However, with Archangel, that something felt more like a lot of hot air.

Unlike most of his other works, this one was insipid, lacking energy. I actually fell asleep reading it at one point (although I did just come from a workout). The story simply meandered on and when it finally reached the climax, it was comical despite the author's full attempt to make it seem important and serious. Definitely not the better of his works. 

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