Book: The labyrinth makers - Livre d'Or — LiveJournal

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Book: The labyrinth makers
Thursday, 26 July 2007 at 09:57 pm

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Author: Anthony Price

Details: (c) 1970 Anthony Price; Pub Futura Publications 1979; ISBN 0-7088-1496-4

Verdict: The Labyrinth Makers is a highly enjoyable thriller.

Reasons for reading it: rysmiel thought I might like Price, based on my reaction to Le Carré.

How it came into my hands: Present from rysmiel

The Labyrinth Makers is a rollicking good read. The characterization is beautiful, the story is fast-paced and exciting, and the puzzle element reveals just the right amount of information at the right pace. I really like Audley as a character and as a detective. I am taken with the idea of having a protagonist who specializes in the backroom side of intelligence, and the book is particularly successful in presenting drama that is exciting to read about but thoroughly unpleasant to live through and not in any way glamourized. Audley is also convincingly good at what he does without even the slightest tendency towards Sue-ism; he has weaknesses, some that he is aware of and some that are only obvious to the reader. It's almost heresy to say it, but I think I could more easily fall for him than Wimsey, the ultimate literary crush object of women like me. Similarly I very much enjoyed the portrayal of his relationship with Faith, and Faith as a character generally.

The Labyrinth Makers doesn't quite measure up to the creepiness of the intricate multiple-crossing and ensuing paranoia of Le Carré. But it's not far off, and in every other respect it's superior. Because of the excellent characterization I cared more about the resolution of the situation and about the "good guys" winning, but another thing I really appreciated was the moral complexity, the way that the question of who the good guys are is actually discussed in character, and the fact that the various characters have various motivations for the decisions they make. Another strength of tLM is the clear sense of the political reality of the precise time of writing; the range of attitudes towards the Soviet Union are really plausible (not that I'm an expert on the Cold War).

The prose is not outstanding, but it's not bad either. I don't think I've ever read anything in this sort of genre that I've enjoyed as thoroughly as tLM, though. It's successful as a story, really par excellence.

Whereaboooots: Newton Chester
Moooood: pleasedpleased
Tuuuuune: Sisters of Mercy: This corrosion
Discussion: 2 contributions | Contribute something

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rysmiel: vacant and in pensive mood
Date:July 26th, 2007 09:02 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 05:02 pm (rysmiel's time)
There are lots of these, and I shall keep an eye out for more of them to send you in due course, they seme to turn up a fair bit here; they do a very weird thing with starting off pretty much independent and developing an ongoing arc as they go along, so there are ones in the last third or so I'd not recommend without having read most of what goes before; will mail you a full list if it would help. There are a couple that take place during the Second World War, but most of them are contemporary-when-written, and the series takes eminent advantage of the possibilities that wrriting between 1969 and 1989 allows.

I think Labyrinth Makers is close to the mean of how good they are; there are a couple that to my mind are close to outright failure - Our Man in Camelot and Gunner Kelly, largely because he tries very different viewpoint characters who do not quite gel (there are a wide range of POVs through the series, though David Audley and Colonel Butler are always central) and a couple that are outright genius - War Game is my personal favourite, though Other Paths to Glory comes close.

It's probably also worth noting, given that you liked this, that John M. Ford's The Scholars of Night is very much a homage/pastiche to these books, with the historical mystery element in question being Kit Marlowe. A rare thing to see lying around but worth you knowing about just in case.
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lethargic_man: blue!
Date:July 30th, 2008 07:44 pm (UTC)
369 days after journal entry, 08:44 pm (lethargic_man's time)
I've just read this book, your review having pushed it to near the top of my list. (I had read Other Paths To Glory, a later book in the series, about a mystery left over from the First World War, some years ago, at rysmiel's behest.)

Being intrigued by the whole conceit of Schliemann's treasure, I had a look on Wikipedia after I had read the book to see what really happened to it, which turned out to be:
In fact, the treasure had been removed to the Soviet Union by the Red Army. During the Cold War, the government of the Soviet Union denied any knowledge of the fate of Priam’s Treasure. However, in 1993 the treasure turned up at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.
So now you know. It also says:
There have always been doubts about the authenticity of the treasure. Within the last few decades these doubts have found fuller expression in articles and books.
See the linked article for a picture of some of it.
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