When historian Fluke Kelso learns of the existence of a secret notebook belonging to Josef Stalin he is determined to track it down, whatever the consequences. From the violent political intrigue and decadence of modern Moscow he heads north - to the vast forests surrounding the White Sea port of Archangel, and a terrifying encounter with Russia's unburied past.
©1998 Robert Harris (P)2014 AudioGo Ltd. Published by Random House Audiobooks
Fascinating and riveting! Harris's vivid almost palpable depictions of characters and settings superbly dramatised by one of the best narrators around, Michael Kitchen! Despite an unauthentic American accent, he succeeds in developing each character, and offering to the listener an intimate portrayal of Harris's panoply of personae; his modulation of timbre and pacing creating a sense of atmosphere that is almost visceral.
"Great book. Performance grew on me!"
Narrator has quite an update usual style. Wasn't sure if I liked it at first but grew to appreciate his artistic approach. His characters and accents were really good too. Excellent story, quite believable as Harris always seems to be, with a nice "Russian" kind of tone to it, reminded me of Dostoevskij or Tolstoy a little.
"I'd listen to Michael Kitchen read the phone book!"
Michael Kitchen (of Foyle's War fame) reads this books so beautifully, sometimes it just made me smile. (Even though there was nothing to smile at in the story.) His narration made even the most despicable characters almost charming--and most of the characters in this book are not especially likeable.
Considering the book was first published in 1998, just as Putin came to power for the first time, I found some of Harris' predictions for the future of Russia quite prescient.
I wouldn't say there was a scene I "liked" best, because the book is about such a dystopian world, most of the scenes are quite horrific. But the writing was so good, you believe it could really have happened that way.
Most of the characters in the book are not very likeable and I don't think I'd like to have dinner with any of them! However, Michael Kitchen is welcome any time!
The only thing I found confusing at times, is the book moves back and forth in time a lot at the beginning and I did get lost a few times and have to go back and listen again. (Not, that that was a hardship--just another excuse to hear Michael Kitchen's melodious voice.) In the printed book there were breaks on the page when this happened, but the pauses weren't long enough in the recording to know, at first, that this was happening.
"Gets better the deeper in you get ..."
Have to admit to being hopelessly lost in the beginning because of the number of aged communists - couldn't recall who was who- probably a function of listening, rather than reading this... Once the number of new characters being introduced settles down a good twisting listen although I was left at the end somewhat thinking "so what" ...
I've read/listened to a number of Robert Harris books. I loved the Cicero trilogy: that was what bought me to this author. This was a disappointment.
No. Interesting premiss but it became ungrounded and unbelievable and ended up as a cliche-ridden caper in the snow.
With Trump in the US and a slide towards the right in Europe, the issue of the attraction of psychopathic dictators seems even more pertinent than it was when Archangel was written. The chases, the shoot-outs, the double crosses and the Son-of-Stalin-supervillain didn't treat the subject matter with the gravitas it deserved. The reality of Trump and Putin is worse than the spectre Archangel conjures.
David Rintoul has done quite a good job on other Harris outings. No one can touch Bill Wallis, but he is no longer available.
I am usually an admirer of Michael Kitchen but his staccato delivery and absolute determination to find unusual stresses and avoid anything approaching a 'lush' reading left me alienated and vaguely irritated throughout. His style distracted from the content. I was regularly left wondering why he'd chosen to stress certain words and missed chunks of the story.
On top of that, the thing was terribly badly recorded, with sudden changes in sound level and patches where a section or even just a few sentences had been re-recorded and dropped in without any attempt to balance sound levels or match the vocal tone. The opening was particularly bad. Lots of poor edits. Very off-putting.
Of the 5 Robert Harris novels (Fatherland, Pompeii, An Officer And A Spy, Imperium & Archangel) that I have read so far, Archangel is my favourite so far. They are all brilliant. There is something about fiction set in Russia or involving Russians that particularly interests me in the same way that the best James Bond films had a Russian connection. I'm also still fascinated by the Cambridge Spies, John Le Carre's tales of Russian espionage and Russian history. Archangel begins with the death of Stalin and follows with the trail for a mysterious diary and more importantly what the contents of that diary reveal or suggests leading to more interesting revelations. I highly recommend this book.
"Enthralling, gripping and exciting"
It is one of the best.
Kelso - because he was multifaceted and actually to be pitied a lot of the time.
Stalin's son but also Papu Rapava
I don't think it is a book that would make a listener/reader laugh or cry but it certainly made me think about the horrors of old Russia and the terrible times the country has gone through and of course it made me sorry for all of the women in the novel who each had a personal tragedy.
We really enjoyed this and Michael Kitchen was a super choice for narrator.
It took some time to get used to Michael Kitchens laconic style of reading, but overall an enjoyable story. It was not, however, as good as Conclave and Officer and a Gentleman
"It was probably me."
The third Robert Harris kindle/audio I have read this holiday. The other two were brilliant. I struggled with this one, not least that the political landscape in Russia has changed from when the book was first published and it was hard to reconcile Russia today with the old Russia.
Builds steadily to an extraordinary conclusion. Sad, haunting and an in depth insight into Russian social history / politics. Great tale well told with pace and sincerity.
Well worth a listen to a cracking yarn
"Over the top"
Someone told me that they could not put the book down and read it overnight, so it is probable that my expectations were too high.
The story was over the top and technically sound was not even throughout.
I like Michael Kitchen but in this reading the quality of his voice did not come through for me.
This is a second book by Robert Harris I listened to and the first one I liked enough to download Archangel.
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