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Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson

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Whittaker Fiction Winner 2009

Joined: 24 May 2007
Posts: 7457
Location: images of elsewhere

PostPosted: Sat Aug 02, 2014 11:51 am    Post subject: Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson Reply with quote

Europe in Autumn
by Dave Hutchinson

ISBN 9781781081952
Paperback and e-book.

You know those people who won’t read science fiction because they think it’s all overblown space opera and little green men? They’re wrong. This is the book that will prove to them once and for all that they’re wrong. I’m a sci-fi nut, and even I had to admit to having doubts as to whether the ‘science fiction’ label on the back was appropriate for what appeared to be a spy-thriller, albeit an exceptionally literary one, but by the time I realised it was correct, I had reached the end and genre was irrelevant. What mattered was that I didn’t want the book to end, and was furious when it did. There needs to be a sequel, and quickly.

Le Carré is referenced within the text, and quite rightly. I haven’t read his books for a long time, but I used to devour them and felt on home ground with this novel as a result – but Le Carré never wrote anything quite like this.

The story is told from the point of view of Estonian chef Rudi who is recruited, not as a spy, but into the equally secretive ‘Les Coureurs des Bois’, an organisation that transports ‘packages’ – which could be anything from messages in one form or another to actual people – across borders. Europe at this point is full of borders, more and more of them appearing all the time as countries break up into smaller states and ‘polities’, making international communication increasingly difficult.

The story is told in a series of episodes, with links and hints and a fabulously rich texture that means it begs to be re-read the moment you finish. After just two back-to-back readings, I’m dying to get back into it to pick up some of the deeper layers which I’m sure I’ve missed.

Depth, richness – makes it sound like a heavy read, but it isn’t remotely. It’s a hugely entertaining, and hilariously funny read in places. The description of the bed and the slippers after the ‘rescue’ must be one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time.

If you fancy reading a long and erudite examination of many of the issues in the book, then I suggest you pop over to Paper Knife, here , and read what Maureen K Speller has to say, because she really gets it – but read the novel first.

If you love by maps, read this novel.

If love John le Carré and wish someone was still writing gritty, realistic spy thrillers, then read this novel, and be transported back into that world, but with additional and often surprising layers.

If you’re coming from the other direction genre-wise, perhaps you love Boris and Arkady Strugatsky’s writing and wish someone else was writing gritty, realistic sci-fi, then read this novel – and then beg Dave Hutchinson to get the sequel published, because this took me back to that feeling I remember from years ago having finished the first book of Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy and knowing I simply had to read the next – nothing else mattered.
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Bob Smith

Joined: 03 Dec 2008
Posts: 85
Location: Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2014 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You make this sound quite intriguing and I'll look for it.

The term 'Coureurs Des Bois' is one from early Canadian history. At the time, the England-based Hudson Bay Company had a monopoly on the lucrative fur trade. A few French Canadian settlers from earlier on became entrepreneurial, unlicensed fur traders by traveling clandestinely into the interior of North America instead of waiting for the natives to bring the furs to their posts, as the English did. They were known as Coureurs des Bois (runners of the woods).

Enough history. I don't know if this provides any additional richness to the book but perhaps it provides some context for the term, which certainly sounds appropriate in its updated use.

Again, I look forward to reading something which combines many of my interests.
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