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»The crux of the problem is that Allende has interwoven the thriller elements with the lives, interrelationships and backstories of a large cast of Bay Area characters. These parts of the book can be mildly enjoyable in a low-key way. Then the melodrama breaks in. The result is two underwhelming novels in one.«

Andrew Taylor

Two novels in one: Andrew Taylor about the novel Ripper by Isabel Allende. His review at The Spectator.

»Padura fortifies his story with details culled from the many biographies of Trotsky (notably, Bertrand Patenaude’s recent Stalin’s Nemesis) to create a book which is James Ellroy-like in its scope and heft. At nearly 600 pages The Man Who Loved Dogs is certainly too heavy on the wrists, but all the same it’s absorbing.»

Ian Thomson

The many attempts to assassinate Trotsky: Ian Thomson about the novel The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leonardo Padura. His review at The Spectator.

»It could be suggested that the spy thriller itself — certainly after Somerset Maugham’s 1928 Ashenden — became the perfect genre with which to explore so many of the anxieties about identity and its representation to which the modernist greats gave expression. Like Eliot’s Prufrock, Bond and his peers are for-ever preparing ‘a face to meet the faces’ that they meet, always working with that lurking uncertainty as to whether they are the hero or the anti-hero of their own life’s narrative. Joseph Conrad had earlier delved into similar territory in his thriller The Secret Agent

Matthew Woodcock

Matthew Woodcock about the writer Ian Fleming invented, and his literary influences. His essay at The Spectator.