Robert Littell

The October Circle

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This harrowing Cold War thriller from the New York Times–bestselling author of The Company is “a brave, ambitious, and most worthy book” (The Washington Post).
Connoisseurs of the literary spy thriller rank Robert Littell up there with John le Carré, Graham Greene, and Alan Furst in the first tier of the genre’s pantheon. Set against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Prague, The October Circle is one of Littell’s most riveting early works.
“Littell is our best exponent of the real Realpolitikal thriller—this one taking place in Sofia in 1968, in a thin, gray ‘present ridiculous’ after the Russians impose their so-called peaceful counterrevolution on Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia . . . Littell has a graphic command of the ‘present ridiculous’ while lending here and there, through assorted characters, an inventive sense of the absurd—but then can we quite demarcate the absurd from the heroic? He’s also a fine ironist, with lines like ‘A Communist is someone who, when he smells roses, looks around for a coffin’ branded on the pages of his intensive, involving novel. Littell writes not only above the genre but beyond it—with smoke rings of conjecture and a striking show of courage.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Exotic setting, constantly surprising . . . and a clockwork plot.” —Newsweek
“Exciting . . . This author can tell a story!” —Chicago Daily News
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250 printed pages
Original publication


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