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The Coldest City Hardcover – May 29 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Oni Press (May 29 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934964530
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934964538
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 540 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #350,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nicola Manning-Mansfield HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on June 5 2012
Format: Hardcover
Reason for Reading: I love cold war spy thrillers.

An enjoyable spy thriller that takes place during the weeks that lead up to and follow the breaking of the Berlin Wall. Told from a British point of view, this has all the makings for a good espionage tale. MI6, CIA, KGB and East German agents all play a part. The story is told backwards through a debriefing of a female agent who was sent to Berlin on a mission where she meets up with an old-timer misogynist agent who is none to happy to have her arrive. Twists and turns move the plot to an unknown destination as the agents look for missing vital documents, we meet up with possible double agents, assassins and a shroud of doubt surrounding everything. A final surprise twist ending brings a satisfying conclusion and fans of the genre will have a gripping read.

I'm on the fence about the artwork. I appreciate that it is done in black and white as it suits the atmosphere and story well. The large panels are well executed but I find I'm just not a fan of the artist's style which is very shadowy and indistinct. Incredibly so, for the regular size panels, at times I had no idea what I was looking at. This, of course, is a reflection on my taste in art, ymmv. Though not to my tastes I do grant that it worked with the story it told.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Spy story with a strong woman Sept. 19 2012
By Christine N. Ethier - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Copy recieved via Netgalley.

There is an idea that spy stories are male stories. True, you have stories about spies that concern women, but those usually have a good dose of "romance" in them. Even excellent ones like Wish Me Luck have a good, strong dosing of romance. The women in such spy movie tend to be helpless, evil until they met the good guy and then they either repent or get dumb, or to be in charge like M in James Bond. There are exceptions, Wish Me Luck had tough women in it, but overall you have to wonder how the woman got into the spy business to begin with if she was going to break so quickly.
This is why it is nice to read this graphic novel. This is very much like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, but with more twists, excellent well done twists. If you are looking for a James Bond spy story, this isn't for you. But if you are looking for a cerebral story set in the waning days of the Cold War, this is fits the prescription.
The central character is Lorraine, a woman sent to Berlin to discover what has happened to a missing list. You know those list that if it gets into the wrong hands, everyone dies. It's true that this plot device is so overused it is almost funny. The great thing is that it works well in this graphic novel because Johnston brings freshness to it. Even in graphic novel format, the characters are well shaded and far from flat. Lorraine is an interesting, a tough as nails woman (she is not a girl), very much like the spies that tend to show up in the British drama. Supporting characters are also very believable. This is a nicely done and thrilling mystery in terms of plot.
At first, I wasn't overly impressed with the artwork of Sam Hart. It is very abrupt, brutal; minimalistic which isn't a type of style that I normally like. At first, I got frustrated at the panels where the faces are blank ovals (such panels are not the majority, but there are enough to notice), then I realized that the style, especially the blank faces really suits a spy story. It's a question of being two-faced, which is a question Lorraine has to answer, but of which face one actually has, of whom one actually is. The artwork, therefore, re-enforces the theme of the graphic novel as well as being a representation of the action.
This is very cool.
I must say that this is not the type of work I would've normally read, but it was being offered via Netgalley as "read this now", so I decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did. Even though the story is based in the real world, in some ways it reminded me of Watchmen in terms of theme. This is a graphic novel worth reading.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Coldest City May 20 2012
By Liz W. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Bodies pile up and twists abound in The Coldest City, a complicated espionage thriller that features a gutsy female spy on a mission in West Berlin, 1989. Fans of John le Carré's spy thrillers will definitely enjoy this dense tale of intrigue, but readers not familiar with spy jargon, or not in the mood for challenging material, may want to look elsewhere.
Espionage Days Before the Berlin Wall Goes Down June 2 2012
By Nicola Manning-Mansfield - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Reason for Reading: I love cold war spy thrillers.

An enjoyable spy thriller that takes place during the weeks that lead up to and follow the breaking of the Berlin Wall. Told from a British point of view, this has all the makings for a good espionage tale. MI6, CIA, KGB and East German agents all play a part. The story is told backwards through a debriefing of a female agent who was sent to Berlin on a mission where she meets up with an old-timer misogynist agent who is none to happy to have her arrive. Twists and turns move the plot to an unknown destination as the agents look for missing vital documents, we meet up with possible double agents, assassins and a shroud of doubt surrounding everything. A final surprise twist ending brings a satisfying conclusion and fans of the genre will have a gripping read.

I'm on the fence about the artwork. I appreciate that it is done in black and white as it suits the atmosphere and story well. The large panels are well executed but I find I'm just not a fan of the artist's style which is very shadowy and indistinct. Incredibly so, for the regular size panels, at times I had no idea what I was looking at. This, of course, is a reflection on my taste in art, ymmv. Though not to my tastes I do grant that it worked with the story it told.
Cold as the Title Suggests, But Could Be Confusing May 22 2012
By Christina (A Reader of Fictions) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The history major in me could not pass up this particular graphic novel. Although the Cold War is not one of the time periods I especially gravitate towards, it is definitely a great era for spy drama, which is what The Coldest City is. There's as much drama, backstabbing and mystery as an episode of Alias. Well, maybe not quite that much, or quite that colorful, but still quite dramatic.

All of that drama, though, is told in a very detached style. Most of the story is told in flashbacks as Broughton, the female spy sent to Berlin to see what's going on after the death of an agent, gives her report to her superiors at MI6. The graphic novel really had a noir feeling I thought, which was only exacerbated by the black and white illustrations.

The artwork did not particularly appeal to me, although it did complement the atmosphere of the story. The images are very shadowed and obscured, rather like the truth. I appreciate them for that, but, aesthetically, they're not especially pleasing.

The one thing that I really felt made this graphic novel stand out was, for me personally, a big plus, but could, for another reader, be a serious detractor. Johnston does not just do all of the dialog in English; the language spoken by the character is the language on the page. This is not especially unique. What is unique is that there is rarely any translation offered. If you don't speak that language, it's all up to the context or an online translator for you. Most of the non-English parts were German, which, conveniently enough, is the other language I know, so I was fine and really enjoyed this. Had I not spoken that language, I think I might have been annoyed and frustrated, because the parts in German are not always simple and easy to derive from context.

All in all, I came away feeling rather meh about this one. The story didn't feel quite fleshed out enough for me to really feel wowed. However, I think it could have some definite appeal for fans of spy stories.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
liked it May 29 2012
By J. R. Baillie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
i bought this in newcastle, UK rather than on amazon so i paid full price but i did get a signed copy

anyway, i liked it but then i like the spy genre...quite a complex story and reminded me of the max friedman stories of vittorio giardino...the text rather than the graphics

as some other reviewer said, the graphics are noirish bt well drawn i think and in keeping with a cold war winter in berlin!

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