Agent 6 (Anglais) Broché – 31 décembre 2011
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Praise for Agent 6
'Smith is superb at evoking the day-to-day realities and bitter ironies of the cold war... immaculately researched sections are individually pungent and powerful.' Andrzej Lukowski, Metro, 7 July 2011
'It's an amazing story full of intrigue and espionage that you won't want to put down.' Kim Metcalf, Essentials August Issue
'Smith remainsa brilliant depicter of the past' --John Dugdale, Sunday Times, 24 July 2011
'Tense and moving' 5 star review --Heat Magazine, 2 July 2011
'One of the most anticipated reads this summer, Demidov fans won't be disappointed' --Attitude, August Issue
'It is a deeply movig piece of work; even information dumps are shot through with emotion.... Agent 6 is something far greater than a rank and file thriller' --BookGeek.co.uk
Présentation de l'éditeur
Raisa and their two daughters travel to the United States on a diplomatic mission, but a horrifying tragedy destroys everything Leo and Raisa have built. Leo must get to the States somehow and find out what happened. Exiled from the Soviet Union and separated from his family, Leo's quest takes him through the stark wilderness of Afghanistan, reawakening all his old instincts and forcing him to confront his demons. But whatever it costs, wherever he must go, he will find Agent 6.
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Léo Demidov est un anti héros que l'on voudrait détester et que pourtant on prend plaisir à suivre car désespérément humain.
Kolyma m'avait semblé moins aboutis et nourrit que Enfant 44, Agent 6 m'a d'avantage captivé.
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Do everyone a favor and keep your reviews on-topic. They are supposed to be about the book [plot, character, structure, style, etc.], not customer service, not Amazon pricing policies, and certainly not your wallet. There are other forums for that. Go post your off-topic rants there.
Leo Demidov's career as a Moscow secret policeman shapes and informs the events that take place, even as he makes a life for himself outside of the law enforcement arena. AGENT 6 begins in 1950, telling the story of how Demidov first met his beloved wife, Raisa. The narrative continues through 1965, when Demidov, who has become a respected manager of a small factory, loses everything he holds dear in the space of a heartbeat. Grieving and seeking revenge, he is prevented by the Communist state from investigating the cause of the tragedy or the impetus behind it. But he is not one to be denied, as those familiar with CHILD 44 and THE SECRET SPEECH know all too well. Over the course of the next 15 years, Demidov relentlessly follows a complex and tortuous path, one that takes him from Russia to the war-torn mountains of Afghanistan and finally to New York.
Along the way, the author captures the mood and the era scrupulously against several different backdrops. One knows, almost from the beginning of the book, that things are not going to end well, as the Soviet Union passes from the terrifying and murderous rule of Josef Stalin through Leonid Brezhnev's rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Soviet ship of state as he steered it resolutely into the economic iceberg that had been its destiny from the beginning. Demidov is older and exhausted, yet more resolute than ever, while at the same time he is arguably more flawed. As with the best literature, the "current" events of AGENT 6 are tied to the acts of the past, erroneous and otherwise. And while the actions of Demidov's past contribute to the tragedies of his present, they also enable him to achieve a draw of sorts at the book's conclusion, however bittersweet it may be.
What is undeniable here is that Smith has emerged from the publication of the final volume of his trilogy as a major and masterful literary talent who is capable of infusing even the most offhand scene or sentence with foreboding, relieved only occasionally with a grim but sharp humor. His ability not only to transform his research into an irresistible and compelling narrative but also to capture the atmosphere of the times and places of which he writes is made more astounding by his relative youth (he is in his early 30s). What he describes in AGENT 6 is not unlike the stories I heard from Stalin-era babushkas when I lived in San Francisco in the 1970s. Smith's wordcraft makes the stories even more memorable and, yes, more horrific.
Where will Smith go from here? I'm hoping for more, as there is something in his work that appears to indicate that as grand as his accomplishments have been thus far, his best books are yet to come. For the immediate future, though, there is AGENT 6, to be savored and re-read.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
I was totally frustrated with Smith's taking us from a compelling story in Russia and New York, then carrying us off to Afghanistan. The reader suspects that he will finish the original story - but he takes too long to get back to it. He could have done this whole Afghanistan "distraction" in about a quarter of the space. He needed to focus more on the mystery that consumes Leo. Additionally, I never found Nara a well developed character - she was just another distraction. And I wondered for most of the book, "Who is Agent 6?" He could have developed that character more fully instead of the Afghanistan "adventure."
Also, when I finished The Secret Speech, I was most curious about how Zoya, the "problem child," would develop. So I picked up Agent 6 expecting to find out about her right at the outset. It just never happens - instead, he focuses on Elena; and Zoya is a minor character. That was very disappointing.
I also liked the Paul Robeson character (Jessie Austin) - Smith might have developed that character more (instead of carrying Leo off to Afghanistan)! In fact, as an aside, the book prompted me to read more about Robeson. I have passed the house where he died in West Philadelphia many times, and I remember when he died; and I now want to visit that house and to read more about Robeson, an American hero and icon who has been maligned and/or forgotten by too many. I think his humanity really came through in this book via Jessie's character - his "falling for" too much that the Soviets dished out, while at the same time having an admirable idealism. He was a very complex man, and I think Smith did a good job revealing a lot about the person behind the Jessie character.
In sum, Smith had 3 characters I would have liked to see developed much more: Zoya, Agent 6, and Jessie Austin.
This book is sort of like two bookends with a bunch of unrelated books between them - the development of the plot, the mystery, with the solution at the end, and a whole lot of "stuff" in-between. You feel like you must keep reading to figure out what happened - but you can't wait till Smith brings you back to the original story.
Having lived in Russia last year for 3 months, I love anything set in Russia; and I look forward to Smith writing more books set in Russia, perhaps after the fall of the Soviet Union (or before again). The setting was my reason for choosing these books. Smith could even forget the trilogy idea and keep Leo as his major character. A lot of great mystery writers satisfy their readers by the indefinite development of a central character-sleuth, and I think Leo is worthy of that continued development.
My guess is that Smith probably had difficult choices to make with regard to both my major points - I doubt I'm saying anything he didn't anticipate. I just think he made the wrong choices.
Will I read his future books? Yes, I will.
Do I recommend that folks read this one? Yes, if they have already read the previous 2 books.
Do I like Smith's writing style and imagination? Yes, I do.
And I think he wrote 2 very excellent books before this one, so he's really a good writer. He just needs to not frustrate his readers with distractions and "unfinished stories" (Zoya). My message to Smith: Keep it up, but perhaps consult with a few more people for the next book. I suspect that someone might have warned him of the problems I had with this book. He needs to keep it up but to make his plots tighter, cut the distractions, and focus on the characters that need more development.
Leo discovers Elena's secret diary, but stops himself from reading it. He will have cause to regret this. Leo's wife, Raisa, and daughters Zoya and Elena, have been chosen to travel to New York as part of a `Peace Tour' meant to foster better relations between the USSR and the USA. Leo is forbidden to travel with them. Leo's paranoia about this proves to be prescient. A tragic crime is committed in New York, and Leo is determined to find the truth.
The action in this novel takes us from the civil rights unrest in the USA in the 1960s, to the USSR's involvement in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Leo is working as an adviser in Kabul, still a long way from solving the central mystery in the novel. The mystery is eventually solved, after a number of interesting but at times frustrating diversions. The plot is complicated, and some of the twists and turns detracted from the overall story. While I kept turning the pages, I found this story less interesting than the earlier novels in the trilogy: Leo Demidov is a less compelling and more deeply flawed anti-hero. I think that, ultimately, the action overwhelmed the story.
I'm glad I read it, but I think that it is by far the weakest link in the trilogy.
`I don't know what he is going to say so I can't predict what I'm going to do.'