Istanbul Passage: Book summary and reviews of Istanbul Passage by Joseph Kanon

Istanbul Passage

A Novel

by Joseph Kanon

Istanbul Passage by Joseph Kanon
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  • Published in USA  May 2012
    416 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

A neutral capital straddling Europe and Asia, Istanbul survived the Second World War as a magnet for refugees and spies, trafficking in secrets and lies rather than soldiers. Expatriate American businessman Leon Bauer was drawn into this shadow world, doing undercover odd jobs and courier runs in support of the Allied war effort.

Now, as the espionage community begins to pack up and an apprehensive city prepares for the grim realities of postwar life, Leon is given one last routine assignment. But when the job goes fatally wrong - an exchange of gunfire, a body left in the street, a potential war criminal on his hands - Leon is plunged into a tangle of intrigue, shifting loyalties, and moral uncertainty.

Played out against the bazaars and mosques and faded mansions of this knowing, ancient Ottoman city, Leon’s conflicted attempt to save one life leads to a desperate manhunt that ultimately threatens his own survival. How do you do the right thing when there are only bad choices to be made?

Rich with atmosphere and period detail, Istanbul Passage is the haunting story of a man swept up in the dawn of the Cold War, of an unexpected love affair, and of a city as deceptive as the calm surface waters of the Bosphorus that divides it.

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Reviews

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BookBrowse Review
"Set in Turkey shortly after the Second World War, Istanbul Passage is the latest spy novel by author Joseph Kanon. Early on in the book, an American is killed during a botched secret agent transfer and all sides--Russian, American, Turkish--work hard to figure out exactly who and where the mole is. Istanbul Passage has some wonderful settings, beautifully described. The city of Istanbul comes alive in its pages as each mini-adventure is set in a distinct city neighborhood. Ultimately though Kanon chooses to maintain a clipped pace, sacrificing plot detail (and explanations) along the way. The result is an atmospheric yet tryingly obtuse novel." - Poornima Apte

Other Reviews
"From an idealist to a pragmatist. Istanbul Passage is a first-rate espionage novel, filled with complexity and thrills, but its greatest success may be in this much more universal literary exploration: how an ordinary man is transformed by extraordinary circumstances." - Publishers Weekly

"With dialogue that can go off like gunfire and a streak of nostalgia that feels timeless, this book takes its place among espionage novels as an instant classic." - Kirkus Reviews

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Author Information

Joseph Kanon Author Biography

© Marion Ettlinger

Joseph Kanon was born in Pennsylvania and was educated at Harvard and Trinity College, Cambridge. While still an undergraduate, he began a career in publishing as a reader for The Atlantic and subsequently held editorial positions at The Saturday Review, Little,Brown, and Coward, McCann.

In 1995, on a visit to the Southwest, he visited Los Alamos and conceived the idea for a novel about the Manhattan Project. Los Alamos was a best-seller, translated into 20 languages, and won the Edgar Award for best first novel. Now a full-time writer, he followed it with The Prodigal Spy, The Good German, Alibi and Stardust. The Good German was made into a film with George Clooney and Cate Blanchett, directed by Steven Soderbergh.

Kanon won the Hammett Award of the International Association of ...

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