The Swiss Spy: Alex Gerlis

It took until my e-reader told me I had read 73% of the book to understand why Gerlis bothered writing this book at all.

The historical facts are well known, leaving no suspense. The writing is bland and expository. The characters are such cardboard cutouts I frequently had to thumb backwards to remember who was who.

Then, finally, at the 73% mark the titular protagonist performs the one decent act in the book, which naturally marks him for death.

So I guess that’s the purpose: spying is a nasty, dirty business that can only end in misery and death. Much like this book.

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The Plot Against America: Philip Roth

The problem with this book is that it’s neither fish nor fowl. Roth is a literary writer. He’s trying to write genre fiction: alternative history. In Roth’s hands, the two don’t mix. The result is as appetizing as mixing soy sauce into coffee and trying to enjoy it. The result is foul.