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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Ambrose, David: The Discrete Charm of Charlie Monk

  Amazon  

4.5 stars

David Ambrose's suspense-filled The Discrete Charm of Charlie Monk offers one of the strangest, most labyrinthine plots I've ever encountered. It's a difficult novel to pin down: Bourne Identity meets Memento meets St. Elsewhere meets...but if I told you the final element it would give away the biggest surprise in the book. (Okay, if you've already read it and you want to know what I'm thinking--or if you just have to know everything and you don't mind spoiling the fun--this is what I mean.)

The Charlie Monk to whose discrete charm the book's title refers is a highly trained government operative who works for an organization so secretive even he couldn't identify it. Given orders in clandestine meetings by his otherwise nameless master, Control, Charlie undertakes thrilling, James Bond-worthy missions--and in his off hours satisfies his Bond-sized appetites. Charlie is the perfect secret agent, focused single-mindedly on the task at hand, obedient, almost effortlessly lethal, and loyal, having been rescued by his current employers from an unpleasant childhood in an abusive orphanage. Charlie's memories of that period of his life are curiously indistinct, but that is something the book's other principal character can help him with: Dr. Susan Flemyng is a brilliant research scientist who specializes in the brain's retention of visual memories. She and Charlie cross paths repeatedly in the book.

For the most part the writing in The Discrete Charm of Charlie Monk is transparent, as is appropriate in a book you want to speed read through. (I clocked in at just over 24 hours.) In a few action scenes, however, the narrative seems abbreviated, as if a paragraph or two were left out in the rush of describing dramatic events, and the reader is left confused about exactly what is happening. But it doesn't matter. The Discrete Charm of Charlie Monk is a wild ride that's well worth the read.

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