Marganna K. (Edmonds, WA)
Simple & Predictable
What spy would let a reporter drop in on her in her old age and readily tell her story of being a deadly sniper, a spy and a defector to this complete stranger? That's what I'm asked to believe in the first pages of Tat'yana's story. OK, I said, I'll go along with this but let's hope the story line improves. It did not - I was disappointed in the characters, the plot, the historical aspect of the story and the writing style. I did read it and was so happy to put it down. I thought the 1st part of Tat'yana's story as a sniper was the best part - it held promise but as she became a hero and then a spy in America, the story lost its punch. After that fairly strong start, it did not hold intrigue, suspense, thrills, depth, emotional strings, historical insight for me. I would not recommend this book to friends, didn't care about the characters, wouldn't replace it if lost during reading and wouldn't read another book by author - my 4 points required to rate as a "good book". MK
Mary D. (Claremont, CA)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! There were plenty of dark parts; a book about war and soldiers cannot help but have many dark and sad spots. But this was particularly interesting because it is written from the point of view of a former Soviet female sniper, a point of view unfamiliar to us Americans. The character of Tat'yana is very strong, honest and she firmly believes in the fight for her country. This makes her disillusionment all the more intense and sad, when she realizes that she is being put "on show" in America and is also expected to spy, for the Soviets, on Eleanor Roosevelt to obtain blackmail material. Her choices are hard and she is quite torn in making them. The book is hard to put down, the characters are well-defined, or hidden in the shadows if called for by their position in life.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in another side of World War II and the development of the USA vs. USSR Cold War in its early stages.
Eileen L. (Danvers, MA)
A great read with a compelling story to tell
This is not the type of book I generally pick up but I am so glad I did! From the first page this book drew me in. The protagonist is fascinating, the history interesting, and the story a great blend of intrigue, romance, and surprises. The author brings to life a fascinating period in our history and weaves a realistic, fully developed character into it. This story was over way too soon!! We are fortunate that Michael White has other work out there to read!
Doris K. (Angora, MN)
I am an avid reader of historical fiction and this book is historical fiction at its best . The author did a great job of making the characters believable. Written from the view of a loyal Russian female soldier, it gives insight into her motivations for her loyalty to her country.
The descriptions of the war between Russia and Germany and the part Tat'yana Levchenko contributed to the war were brilliantly written.
This would be a good choice for a book club as there would be many areas to discuss. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction should read this book.
Andrea S. (Lafayette, IN)
Absorbing story of war, politics and love
I could not put down this story of a Soviet assassin's tour of America in the early days of World War II. It did remind me a bit of the book/movie, "Flags of Our Fathers". We know the outcome from the beginning, but it did not spoil the unfolding of Tat'yana's tale. I learned a lot about the war in Europe before the US entered the battle and the frantic lobbying going on between governments to draw the US into the European war. I did think the book ended abruptly, with a subplot left unresolved, but I still greatly enjoyed the book. This would be a good choice for book clubs-I hope mine will read it!
Hilary H. (Tucson, AZ)
The Beautiful Assassin
I really enjoyed this book. Michael White is a new author for me but I will definitely try another one of his books. "The Beautiful Assassin" had an interesting premise though I wasn't sure how it would work. It starts slowly but very quickly becomes an intriguing war/spy story. White uses some real historical characters as well as many fictional characters in a story that is captivating and exciting.
Lori L. (La Porte, IN)
When I first started this book, the plot device of the main character reminiscing about her past life was a bit off-putting, cliched, and heavy-handed (been there, done that). However, thankfully, the author did not continually move back and forth between past and present throughout the book, but instead embedded us into the life of a beautiful female Russian sniper. We learn what motivates Tat'yana Levchenko to write poetry and to kill Nazis, and follow her on her journey to America where the machinations and political posturing by both the US and Russia call into question her convictions about her country and her beliefs about her role in the war.