I had so much work this week that I didn’t have the time to write the Wednesday review or even read much. Since I’m self-employed, that’s a good thing, but it’s a bit stressful to do 12-14 hour work days, especially when it’s so hot. And now, on a Saturday, it’s raining, of course…

A stand-alone thriller about international spies.

Publication year: 2010
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible Inc.
Narrator: Kate Reading
Running Time: 14 hours, 43 minutes

A group of very wealthy men control the legendary Library of Gold which the rest of the world knows as Ivan the Terrible’s lost library. Now, one of the priceless books have been stolen and the men want it back.

Eva Blake is an expert on old and rare books, just like her husband was. Unfortunately, he died in a car accident and Eva was convicted of killing him because all evidence said that she was driving, even though her memories are different. At the start of the book, she’s waiting to hear from her lawyer and then we jump to two years later.

Tucker Anderson is an old spy and a CIA agent. His old friend and former spy, Jonathan Rider, tells Tucker that he has stumbled onto something that has to do with the Library of Gold and Islamist terrorists. But before Jonathan can tell more, he’s shot to death. Jonathan’s son Judd wants in on the investigation and a chance to avenge his father.

Eva has been in prison and Tucker gets her free because he needs her expertize to find the Library of Gold. She agrees, of course, and flies to London to a conference with a lot of old friends, whom she’s going to see for the first time since her conviction.

The plot is fast-paced and the point-of-view characters change quickly. In addition to Eva, Judd, and Tucker, the are many other point-of-view characters, most of them the bad guys: the main enforcer, Preston, for the man who is the leader of the group of men who hold the Library, the leader himself, and later terrorists. At the start of the book Tucker is the POV character for several chapters, but later he becomes a secondary character. The scenes change quickly: the plot moves from US to London to Istanbul and I rather enjoyed the international feel.

Eva isn’t the nerdy book lover that the beginning sets her out to be. Her time in prison has hardener her but she was also a rebel when she was a teenager and picked up skills like pick pocketing and lock picking. She’s also an expert in karate. She’s started to accept that her memories of the evening when Charles died maybe different than the reality and she’s trying to accept that she was responsible for his death. However, this is quickly turned into it’s head.

Judd is a former military intelligence agent and has retired from the army. He doesn’t yet know what he would want to with himself. When his father is killed, it’s easy for him to concentrate on finding his killer. He’s seen a lot of violence and is sick of it.

The villains are rich and self-important people who are, alas, very believable, but not very interesting. The enforcer is cold-blooded and has no problem killing people he’s worked with a minute ago, which made him chilling.

Many of the characters are book collectors or readers and I can certainly relate to that. 🙂 I also really liked the short historical stories about spies around the world and throughout the ages. On the other hand, I don’t really like books where terrorists are the enemy, so for me the book wasn’t as interesting as it could have been. Also, the characters were a bit remote. My favorite characters were a gay couple, who, for once!, weren’t youngsters or in a courtship phase. A university professor and his partner were middle-aged and in a solid relationship.

The book has a fascinating epilogue where the author talks about her research into the library.

I liked Kate Reading’s narration. She seems to be a no-nonsense reader and she didn’t try to do accents too much. Her Italian characters have more a sing-song quality than an accent.