Nobody in The Secret Agent comes off very well. The protagonist is fat and vulgar. His wife is obsessed by one motive and has very few ideas otherwise. The anarchists are by and large a pitiful, ineffective lot. The spy hunters are consumed by bureaucratic feuds and personal considerations and work at cross-purposes. The most admirable character is a mentally slow youth. This is not a mystery (I won't say anything about plot in case someone actually has any doubts halfway through the book about how things are going to turn out), and it is not a conventional spy story. It is a domestic tragedy.
It isn't a story about the sea. Instead, it is a spy novel. The writing is somewhere between Edgar Alan Poe and (slow motion) John LeCarre. I enjoyed it very much. I think some readers will find the old-fashioned prose and slow pace of the action a bit uncomfortable. No, it isn't Jason Bourne dishing out violence every few minutes. It is about communists bent on bringing down the society of law and capitalism. Listen and enjoy. There is a surprise twist at the end.
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