Whilst attending a conference on newly-opened Soviet archives, Fluke Kelso is approached by an old NKVD officer who knows where Beria hid Stalin's private papers. What begins as an academic curiosity turns into a murderous chase across Russia.
©2009 Robert Harris (P)2009 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
I chose this book because I so enjoyed Ghost by the same author. He has an unsettling way of using his novels to make political points and Archangel is no exception. I love books that really make me think and Robert Harris explores the dynamics in the modern "Westernised" Russia compared to life under communism. At the same time, he tells an interesting and at time, tense story concerning the last days of Stalin. During the novel, a legacy from the old times is uncovered by the unlikely hero found in Fluke Kelso. I really liked Fluke and I hope we catch up with him again soon. The entire book is brilliantly narrated by Michael Kitchen who mastered the characters to perfection. I didn't think I was really that interested in Communist Russia but Robert Harris proved me wrong. This book would interest anyone who enjoys the study of human beings mixed with history and a certain amount of political comment. Add to that suspense and an old mystery and I found Archangel a great read.
The narrator is the best I have ever heard on an audible book. The book is fast moving, great dialogue and plot. Perhaps I would like more attention to detail.
A very well written and well conceived story and a great narrator make for an extremely enjoyable audio experience. I have also read this book years ago when it was first published, but returned to it on audio as I was spending a lot of time in the car and wanted something gripping to keep me entertained and this book with excellent narration by Michael Kitchen really did the trick.
Similar to the Le Carre books in someways, a quality thriller set in Russia, post cold war but with the ghosts and memories of an earlier time still lingering and waiting to pounce ...
The voices are clear, easily differentiated for the various characters and totally believable accents and tones. One of the best narrations of any audio book I've come across.
A memorable, chilling and very satisfying book which is probably my favourite by this author.
I started listening to this, then found it rather dull and gave up for several months. I found Michael Kitchen's narrative style difficult to get used to. It's rather detached or bored, as though he's reporting back to a meeting. I think that's deliberate to give an air of authenticity, ie that the events have happened. In fact there were one or two places where as far as I recall the narrative itself suggested that, although I'd missed who was speaking or listening.
I went back to the book after several months as I had finished the current book before the month end. I found the story picked up, but all the characters were rather unappealing.
The story relates to papers which are associated with Stalin. At one point Fluke does panic realising that he is allowing himself to be hustled into matters far more quickly than is good for his professional reputation, but he still permits this and I did begin to get exasperated with him for letting events over run him.
The first few chapters of the book introduce many unfamiliar Russian names and places and at times I was confused as to who was whom, but I was carried along by Michael Kitchen's excellent interpretation. Books read by him have added appeal. Once into the book I was gripped by the extraordinary and imaginative story weaving fact and fiction in a convincing way.
really struggled to listen to narrator had to go back to the beginning 3 times to get to grips with the plot.Great story should have read and not listened too!
I'm an audible addict!
Yes, it's well written and compelling listening
I just love his voice, doesn't matter which character
Yes, but that's a luxury
Tunes, flicks, surf and smelling 2-stroke from a classic Italian.
I've read (erm, heard) 4 or 5 books by Robert Harris now and everything he puts out appears to be immensely readable (erm, hearable), this is no exception. The narration is great too and while the Russian accents do have a slight air of comedy about them they do not come across as crass or detract from the overall experience in any way.
Michael Kitchen at his best. A thrilling story superbly brought to life. The atmosphere is built extremely well and you are really drawn in towards the thrilling climax. Very difficult to'put down' and highly recommended.
"Uneven thriller and recording, great performance"
I decided to try Archangel because I loved Robert Harris’s Fatherland as well as the first two books from the Cicero trilogy, Imperium and Lustrum (the latter called Conspirata in the U.S.). I did not enjoy Archangel as much.
In the story, British historian Fluke Kelso (yes, that's the bizarre moniker of the protagonist) is attending a conference in Boris Yeltsin’s Moscow in the 90s. He learns of the possible existence of a black oilskin notebook owned by Joseph Stalin. From there, the book is a sort of chase that involves a race to find this MacGuffin and the meaning behind it, between Kelso and ex-KGB heavies, new Russian intelligence/police, an extremely annoying American reporter, and a morose femme fatale.
It’s fascinating to see the way Harris has weaved his fictional world with actual elements of history, but there is something about the story that seems off. Where Fatherland and the Cicero books are expertly plotted, Archangel moves along in a clumsy fashion. Also, the contrivance of the name Fluke Kelso distracted me, and was a constant reminder of the unwieldiness of the plot.
The story picks up momentum as it moves toward the conclusion. Harris’s vivid descriptions of snow are some of the best I’ve seen. I agree with those who find the ending implausible.
I've listened to over fifty audiobooks, and this is one of the most uneven I've heard. Michael Kitchen (who plays Detective Foyle in Masterpiece Theatre’s Foyle’s War) does a masterful job narrating, but the recording engineer made a number of amateurish mistakes. For example, the volume periodically increases or decreases arbitrarily, forcing you to turn the volume up or down to compensate. Also, it is very apparent and distracting where one recording session left off and another one picked up.
Robert Harris has done a wonderful job of weaving an ever more compelling plot with utterly believable and suprisingly sympathetic, if not always likeable, characters. His portrayal of the conflict and chaos of post-Soviet Russia is fascinating.
Michael Kitchen is so much more than a reader- he truly dramatizes the book.
Unlike another reviewer, I found the ending to be crafted brilliantly. He turned the inevitable into suspenseful, emotional tension. Instead of being disappointed BY the ending, I was disappointed THAT it ended.
More, Mr. Harris and Mr. Kitchen, and quickly!
"The Whole Story and Presentation are Fantastic"
Certainly, one of the best.
You always ended up surprised.
All of them...but probably Stalin.
"Decent Story - Terrible Production Value"
While the story itself isn't Harris' best it is enjoyable. Sadly the production value is awful. It's painfully clear when the narrator has started a new recording session as the levels don't match up at all and it really does effect the listeners ability to loose themselves in the story. A shame.
The story was a good one, slow to start but it did a fine job of piquing interest and the story built to a fine crescendo. HOWEVER! The ending sucked. I felt cheated out of all the time put into listening to it. The two stars is because the story premise and plot was good, but if I had it to do over, I would not have listened to it.
"A Worthy spy novel."
For fans of political thrillers, this counts as one.
I'm not certain what elese to compare it to.
Where they meet Stalin Junior for the first time. Creepy how he's described as looking exactly like his father.
I wouldn't rename it.
aside from the odd ending, this is a great book.
Michael knows hwo to do Russian accents extremely well. The twist when we find out the notebook is actually about Anna, not Stalin is a big revolation.
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