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Chopin's Move [Paperback]

Jean Echenoz
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 12.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

April 1 2004 French Literature Series

With his trademark comically wry phrasing and a sure eye for quirky detail, Echenoz has produced his oddest and most enjoyable novel to date. Chopin's Move interweaves the fates of Chopin, entomologist and recalcitrant secret agent; Oswald, a young foreign-affairs employee who vanishes en route to his new home; Suzy, who gets enmeshed in a tangle of deceit and counterdeceit; the mysterious Colonel Seck, whose motivations are never quite what they seem; and a typically Echenozian supporting cast of neurotic bodyguards, disquieting functionaries, and crafty double agents. As the plot thickens, the characters become embroiled in layer upon layer of deception and double-dealing, leading them further into a world in which nothing can be taken at face value and in which "reality" hinges on apparently harmless coincidence.


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From Publishers Weekly

Secrets and lies abound in Echenoz's latest wry sendup of the spy thriller, which features a mysterious colonel, a reluctant secret agent, a magnetic beauty and a vanished husband. The shadowy Colonel Seck has been trailing Franck Chopin, an entomologist and sometime secret agent whose technique gives new meaning to the term "fly on the wall." On a walk, Chopin spots-and instantly falls in love with-Suzy Clair, who tells him that her husband, Oswald, who worked in France's Foreign Affairs department, inexplicably disappeared six years ago. Shortly thereafter, Chopin is summoned by Seck, "a midnight blue-clad sexagenarian with very white teeth," and informed that he has been chosen to trail an official named Vital Veber as the latter relaxes at a resort near Paris. General secretary Veber is traveling with his cryptanalyst, a massive collection of files and two cartoonishly muscle-bound bodyguards, Perla and Rodion. With the help of Seck and a painter at the spa who incorporates clues into his artwork, Chopin must follow Veber's every move, though, as Seck notes, the spy is "mainly there as window dressing." Who's after whom in this desultory case? And why is Suzy Clair also at the resort, chatting up Veber? Chopin and Suzy share a brief, passionate embrace-and then Chopin promptly finds himself kidnapped. Echenoz amuses and confuses as main characters and bit players appear in unexpected places and behave in unforeseen fashions. Flashes of wit abound, but this novel may feel too slight to satisfy.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Echenoz, the acclaimed French author of I'm Gone (2001), presents a gripping, quirky novel full of intrigue, wit, and a sophistication not typically seen in the average spy story--and also filled with typical French ennui. Everyone seems bored by their current work and lives, and this leads to all sorts of deception and double defections. Chopin is a middle-aged entomologist and former intelligence agent, who seems more able to commit to the flies he studies than the women he loves. He becomes involved with Suzy, whose husband mysteriously vanished the very night they moved to a new Parisian apartment. Chopin is recruited for one final mission, where he employs his novel spying techniques involving flies in a swank French resort. While there, Chopin realizes Suzy's duplicity, and he compromises his allegiance to his boss (whose own allegiances are suspect) for the woman he loves. As in all the best thrillers, everyone is working for someone else, nothing is what it seems, and everything works out in the end. Michael Spinella
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Paperback
Chopin's Move is an intriguing novel following Chopin, an entomologist and reluctant secret agent; Oswald, a foreign-affairs employee who mysteriously vanishes; Ozwald's wife Suzy, whose relations with Chopin enmesh her within a shroud of deceit; and more colorful, neurotic, off-kilter or ever-so-slightly screwy individuals. Written with a keen tongue-in-cheek taste for wry humor and nuances of detail, Chopin's Move is a distinguished narrative with twists that keep on coming.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gifted Writer on a Lark April 27 2007
By Bart King - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Jean Echenoz's work has received many high-browed prizes in French literature, so I was a little surprised at how slight a project CHOPIN'S MOVE was. It is the work of a gifted writer having fun with a genre romp. As with Jonathan Lethem's similarly-minded book, Gun, with Occasional Music, the results are amusing, but ultimately, somewhat exasperating.

With Echenoz, much of the fun for the reader lies in the odd turns of phrase that one wants to credit him for... as opposed to an inventive translator! But in the end, the punning (our entomologist-protagonist works with bugs, and as a spy, also plants them, get it?) and silliness just sort of wore me down. It's one thing for a writer to enjoy a good lark, but as a reader, I suppose I wasn't quite in the right mood. Nonetheless, Francophiles, word lovers, and devotees of spy literature will find this book enjoyable.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A distinguished narrative with twists that keep on coming June 7 2004
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Chopin's Move is an intriguing novel following Chopin, an entomologist and reluctant secret agent; Oswald, a foreign-affairs employee who mysteriously vanishes; Ozwald's wife Suzy, whose relations with Chopin enmesh her within a shroud of deceit; and more colorful, neurotic, off-kilter or ever-so-slightly screwy individuals. Written with a keen tongue-in-cheek taste for wry humor and nuances of detail, Chopin's Move is a distinguished narrative with twists that keep on coming.
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