Friday, May 17, 2013

Review of The Shanghai Factor by Charles McCarry

The Shanghai Factor by Charles McCarry is the first novel I've read by this author. He needs no introduction given his plethora of other books on the subject of espionage so I'll begin with stating I enjoyed reading this book a lot. Our nameless hero is narrating the story as he travels between China and America on the mission of getting intelligence about CEO Chen Qi. CEO Chen Qi is believed to be the front man for the Chinese Intelligence known simply as Guonbu. We follow our spy as he becomes emersed into a world where danger is at every turn and no one can be trusted.

The Shanghai Factor reads at a very quick pace and is easy to follow. It's a slow burn, much like espionage is described as being in this book. Our hero doesn't go dashing across lanes of traffic or zip lining off telephone poles. He's your average, intelligent guy that gets a whole lot of action from women of questionable backgrounds. If you're interested in a Jason Bourne, this is not the book for you.

Character development is done well considering this is a narrative. In the interest of pacing and good storytelling, there were no unnecessary characters thrown into the fray just to be killed off. The actions in this novel are purposeful and deliberate. Every person is well described even though our hero is unable to tell  most of their background. He describes their actions, their looks, as a way to evoke what that person may be thinking or feeling.

In closing, I'd like to reinterate that I really enjoyed this book. It's filled with mystery and intrigue the entire time. The sense that there is no one who can be trusted is always lingering like the elephant in the room. The Shanghai Factor is suited best for lovers of spy novels and fans of Charles McCarry. ****

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