... shrewd, intricately plotted...its point of view moving deftly from one to the next every few pages ... With all the intersecting perspectives, past-action leaps, socio- and geopolitical intrigue, and the need to contextualize modern Istanbul, the novel can feel a bit labyrinthine. But...there’s something of Graham Greene, too, in the insights and authority on foreign affairs, the combination of moral complexity with entertainment. Ackerman is the rare American novelist who goes to the world’s flash points and achieves what Peter considers the point of art: 'emotional transference,' the ability of the artist to transmit his understanding and feelings to a stranger.
Ackerman...is a master of painfully intimate portraits of despair, and his words have the authority, and often the weariness, of lived experience ... Ackerman weaves his tale together gradually, layering in the revealing details, tightening the screws to press against the fragility of each character’s tenuous circumstance. One of those characters turns out to be the city itself. Ackerman has lived in Istanbul, and his intimate knowledge shines through, making that schizophrenic city—with one foot in Europe, the other in Asia—one of the most compelling portraits the author paints, a character that draws the reader in.
... a territory of intrigue and tricks, entirely absorbing ... Ackerman’s rich knowledge of Turkey, where he was based as a journalist for a number of years, is evident on every page. The book’s stunning scenes of the protests in Gezi Park, where the police used tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets on demonstrators, are superbly written and give the book its title ... Turkey, for all its violent complexities and hostile factions, is not a country at war, and readers may find less at stake in this novel than in Ackerman’s prior fiction. All its characters, despite their vividness and their claims on our sympathy, are carried by a mighty undertow of self-interest. What lasts is the book’s emphasis on hidden machinations of power ... This reminder of unseen forces feels like the book’s underlying ambition and provides the resonance, the heightening of thought, that ends the book — a musing on America’s overseas intrusions, on the trove of details deemed essential to keeping things in line, and on how such powers might seep into even the most intimate of relations.
If you know your Bosphorus from phosphorus and Gezi Park means something to you, you’ll probably love Elliot Ackerman’s new novel. If the strait that separates the European and Asian parts of Turkey and the 2013 demonstrations against urban development in Istanbul drive you to Google, you might not appreciate the novel as much at first, but don’t be afraid to give it a try ... The time hopping can be jarring at times, but a close reader is rewarded for his attention ... Turkey is the real star of the book. Ackerman, a former Marine who served five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, loves the setting and his descriptions are some of the best-written lines of the book ... The whole book is taut, balanced between order and chaos, just like Istanbul in that summer of 2013 ... The back half reads much faster than the first, as earlier scenes start to make more sense and Ackerman uncovers the webs that keep his characters together. It’s a book that demands focus, best enjoyed in just a few sittings.
Ackerman’s trademark prose, defined by stillness and rich descriptions, evocatively captures the strained nature of contemporary Turkish life. While markedly different from Ackerman’s earlier fiction, this slow-burning novel of intrigue deftly hints at a shadowy world that exists just out of frame and is one that lives long in the memory.
At its core, this carefully plotted novel, set in contemporary Istanbul, is a meditation on how our most intimate relationships are sometimes our most transactional ... Besides being an adept storyteller, Elliot Ackerman is a keen observer of the political shifts that a country like Turkey must navigate, and his descriptions of real events such as the Gezi Park protests make the setting more than just a backdrop. The reader sees a wide swath of the city’s neighborhoods and social strata, so that its very geography comes alive. While flashbacks slow down the pace of the story, they also enable the reader to collect information that will help put the puzzle together.
Thanks to Ackerman’s unaffected style, this absolutely riveting novel moves rapidly ... Though this is not a mystery proper, there is mystery here. In Agatha Christie fashion, Ackerman gathers his characters for what appears to be the grand finale but saves the true reveal for the very end ... An attention-grabbing, cleverly plotted, character-driven yarn.
In Ackerman’s wry if convoluted latest...the story of an unhappy marriage is suffused with pointed commentary on Turkey in the months following the 2013 Gezi revolt ... Still, the big reveal arrives too late and doesn’t quite offer enough payoff to justify such dense plotting. This falls short of Ackerman’s best work.
The novel is deftly plotted, though the characters themselves seem more like pawns in the author’s narrative scheme, lacking much flesh-and-blood depth, though perhaps this is a reflection of the 'moral hollowness' that Catherine suspects in herself, as she is suspended between a marriage of convenience and what might seem to be an affair of convenience ... A novel in which relationships develop more from pragmatism than passion.