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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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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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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)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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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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Authors & publishers:
I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Jamison, Dirk: Perishable | Main | McCall Smith, Alexander: The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs »

Fox, Chris: The Devil's Halo

  

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Hutchinson © 2005, 471 pages [amazon]
3.5 stars

Terry Weston, a professor of international business ethics, moonlights as an economic spy with an off-the-books relationship with the CIA. He is hired early in Chris Fox's thriller to recover a bootlegged copy of an unreleased action movie from the Russian pirates who managed to break the digital file's military-strength encryption. His mission, dangerous enough in the first place, soon morphs into a much bigger assignment with far-reaching political implications. Weston's wife and six-year-old daughter are dragged to Europe to insure his cooperation with the U.S. government. Maria Weston is a rocket scientist who works with the Pentagon's Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Her expertise turns out to be vital to her husband's success: together the Westons investigate and attempt to sabotage Project Europa, a Franco-Russian initiative whose goal is nothing less than ending the military supremacy of the United States, and in particular undermining her interests in space.

Terry and his wife share a sometimes charming camaraderie, approaching the innumerable life-threatening situations into which they are thrown with a Nick-and-Nora insouciance.The Devil's Halo, set in the near future, tells a complex story, impressive in its detail, from multiple points of view. Though the story belongs primarily to Terry Weston there are numerous short passages in which well-drawn walk-on characters are introduced to round out those parts of the narrative that are outside of Weston's experience. Terry and his wife share a sometimes charming camaraderie, approaching the innumerable life-threatening situations into which they are thrown with a Nick-and-Nora insouciance. Arguably more interesting than either of the Westons, however, is Fox's principal bad guy, Constantin Rodin, a "gray-haired brick" of a man who, despite his penchant for beating and killing people, manages to remain a sympathetic character.

For the most part I enjoyed The Devil's Halo, but I have some complaints. I found it difficult to suspend belief when the Westons used a rocket ship as a get-away vehicle. More importantly, the book is uneven. A page-turner in parts, the pace of the story slows to a crawl during a number of information-heavy chapters. One wishes the exposition could have been broken up into more easily digested bits. Finally, my biggest problem with the book was with the Weston's daughter Ariana, whose presence in the story, sometimes no more than an after thought, is  unnecessary. Ariana's character does not ring true. She is presented as a mini spy in training, capable of enduring all manner of hardships--unfamiliar playgroups and unplanned trips abroad and treks through the sewers of Moscow and getting shot at--without the whining and hunger and bathroom requirements you'd expect from a six-year-old. The child's excision from the book would, I think, improve it.

Despite its problems The Devil's Halo is a good read, sometimes very good. Fox paints a picture of European antipathy toward the U.S., culminating in a muted apocalypse, which is particularly interesting in the current geopolitical climate.

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Comments

1.

As someone who is very interested in the global political and economic climate, I believe this is a book I would enjoy reading. Thanks for the recommendation (and the honest critique!).

2.

Thanks for the feedback! I'm glad you enjoyed the review.




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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.