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Summary

When historian Fluke Kelso learns of the existence of a secret notebook belonging to Josef Stalin he is determined to track it down, whatever the consequences. From the violent political intrigue and decadence of modern Moscow he heads north - to the vast forests surrounding the White Sea port of Archangel, and a terrifying encounter with Russia's unburied past.

©1998 Robert Harris (P)2014 AudioGo Ltd. Published by Random House Audiobooks

What listeners say about Archangel

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Gets better the deeper in you get ...

Have to admit to being hopelessly lost in the beginning because of the number of aged communists - couldn't recall who was who- probably a function of listening, rather than reading this... Once the number of new characters being introduced settles down a good twisting listen although I was left at the end somewhat thinking "so what" ...

6 people found this helpful

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Russian Intrigue

Of the 5 Robert Harris novels (Fatherland, Pompeii, An Officer And A Spy, Imperium & Archangel) that I have read so far, Archangel is my favourite so far. They are all brilliant. There is something about fiction set in Russia or involving Russians that particularly interests me in the same way that the best James Bond films had a Russian connection. I'm also still fascinated by the Cambridge Spies, John Le Carre's tales of Russian espionage and Russian history. Archangel begins with the death of Stalin and follows with the trail for a mysterious diary and more importantly what the contents of that diary reveal or suggests leading to more interesting revelations. I highly recommend this book.

3 people found this helpful

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Enthralling, gripping and exciting

Where does Archangel rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It is one of the best.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Kelso - because he was multifaceted and actually to be pitied a lot of the time.

Which character – as performed by Michael Kitchen – was your favourite?

Stalin's son but also Papu Rapava

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I don't think it is a book that would make a listener/reader laugh or cry but it certainly made me think about the horrors of old Russia and the terrible times the country has gone through and of course it made me sorry for all of the women in the novel who each had a personal tragedy.

Any additional comments?

We really enjoyed this and Michael Kitchen was a super choice for narrator.

2 people found this helpful

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Archangel

It took some time to get used to Michael Kitchens laconic style of reading, but overall an enjoyable story. It was not, however, as good as Conclave and Officer and a Gentleman

2 people found this helpful

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Over the top

What did you like best about Archangel? What did you like least?

Someone told me that they could not put the book down and read it overnight, so it is probable that my expectations were too high.

What was most disappointing about Robert Harris’s story?

The story was over the top and technically sound was not even throughout.

Which character – as performed by Michael Kitchen – was your favourite?

I like Michael Kitchen but in this reading the quality of his voice did not come through for me.

Do you think Archangel needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Absolutely not

Any additional comments?

This is a second book by Robert Harris I listened to and the first one I liked enough to download Archangel.

2 people found this helpful

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Then Ending is not worthy of the Beginning

A missed opportunity.

What happened:

You’re iimpressed with the author’s craft, his ability to suck the reader in and to convince him that the price of admission is necessary. This is done, not immediately, but eventually, at an unhurried pace. The promise that is signalled in the foyer of the book, so to speak.

The alien (at least for western audiences) landscape is then drawn up with an instinctive verisimilitude. Yes, so far, so good. You slowly realise that Fluke Kelso, the protagonist, is in cahoots with the disembodied narrative as a sort of hybrid delivery vehicle to the real premise and underlying feature of the novel, the ghost of the legacy of Comrade Stalin-let’s call it Stalinism, as it is understood.

This is all done entertainingly, within the ease and mastery of Harris’s writing power, as he builds up the tension & suspense.

And then, after all that build up, at the immediate point that the secret is unveiled and we meet the secret face to face…

…he blows it…the whole bloody thing gets screwed up, the premise dissolves to ridiculousness and disbelief submerges us.

Why? Did the publishing deadline approach too fast and author just run out of time? Out of energy? Out of loyalty to the quality of wha he has previously written?

Who knows, it’ll just have to remain a mystery…and perhaps that was the trick Harris missed. Perhaps, he ought to have let the story play out to an indessive end.

But luckily, the first 80% of the book was good enough to rave about.

The narrator was excellent.

1 person found this helpful

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Mikey

Very good story with twist at the end. Harris in usual form. Worth the money.

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It was probably me.

The third Robert Harris kindle/audio I have read this holiday. The other two were brilliant. I struggled with this one, not least that the political landscape in Russia has changed from when the book was first published and it was hard to reconcile Russia today with the old Russia.

1 person found this helpful

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Enthralling story

Builds steadily to an extraordinary conclusion. Sad, haunting and an in depth insight into Russian social history / politics. Great tale well told with pace and sincerity.
Well worth a listen to a cracking yarn

1 person found this helpful

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  • AM
  • 26-08-22

Descends into farce at the end - shame

Kitchen's angry reading, spitting out every word with ire, was really tedious. The plot was fabulous (I mean, it's Robert Harris) and the depiction of Russia in those Zhirinovsky days was pretty good - quite wanted to go to Archangel by the end. Obviously, it was all very well researched and the Ukraina hotel was perfect - he must have stayed there. BUT, the characters were silly and cliched and the blokey dialogue between the journalist and scholar on the journey was just stupid and hackneyed (not helped by the reader). Oh, of course the only woman in it was a prostitute (yawn), troubled but with a heart of....well, you get it. Once the plot gets near its conclusion the whole thing because so stupidly farcical I lost interest. Shame really. Started well...

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  • Mike
  • 03-10-16

Great book. Performance grew on me!

Narrator has quite an update usual style. Wasn't sure if I liked it at first but grew to appreciate his artistic approach. His characters and accents were really good too. Excellent story, quite believable as Harris always seems to be, with a nice "Russian" kind of tone to it, reminded me of Dostoevskij or Tolstoy a little.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Starr
  • 03-02-16

I'd listen to Michael Kitchen read the phone book!

Would you consider the audio edition of Archangel to be better than the print version?

Michael Kitchen (of Foyle's War fame) reads this books so beautifully, sometimes it just made me smile. (Even though there was nothing to smile at in the story.) His narration made even the most despicable characters almost charming--and most of the characters in this book are not especially likeable.

What did you like best about this story?

Considering the book was first published in 1998, just as Putin came to power for the first time, I found some of Harris' predictions for the future of Russia quite prescient.

Which scene was your favorite?

I wouldn't say there was a scene I "liked" best, because the book is about such a dystopian world, most of the scenes are quite horrific. But the writing was so good, you believe it could really have happened that way.

If you could take any character from Archangel out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Most of the characters in the book are not very likeable and I don't think I'd like to have dinner with any of them! However, Michael Kitchen is welcome any time!

Any additional comments?

The only thing I found confusing at times, is the book moves back and forth in time a lot at the beginning and I did get lost a few times and have to go back and listen again. (Not, that that was a hardship--just another excuse to hear Michael Kitchen's melodious voice.) In the printed book there were breaks on the page when this happened, but the pauses weren't long enough in the recording to know, at first, that this was happening.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Gordon T.
  • 18-10-21

Not his best

The story drags on interminably to a predictable conclusion. Author did make some good calls on the future of Russia. Narrator was great.