The key protagonist in The Partisan by Patrick Worrall is a female Lithuanian resistance fighter who becomes a Cold War assassin. How nice to read a thriller set in the Baltic States, a fresh take on war and how to survive it. At the heart of the story is Greta, the partisan. I admired her, and feared her. An ambitious timeline ranges from the Spanish Civil War to the Sixties Cold War as Greta turns from wartime fighting, one of the Three Sisters, to post-war vengeance tracking down the war criminals on her list and eliminating them. Greta’s story intersects in 1963 with Yulia and Michael, Soviet and English teenage chess champions respectively, and a Soviet plot to win the Cold War. The 1963 chess sub-plot got in the way. Greta is the fascinating character, I wanted to read about her. Her story is thrilling enough.
I couldn’t help but wonder if a more limited reach would help the story’s rhythm. The story jumps around a bit. In the first half I would prefer spending longer with each character to understand them, before the pace picks up as tension rises and point of view gets snappier. I wanted to read about Greta’s story in one long narrative thread instead of a timeline jumping between 1940s and 1963. I particularly enjoyed Greta’s interviews with journalist Indrė in 2004 and was unable to get beyond the jumping around when I wanted to settle in with one character. The character list is long with many similar names to remember – who is on which side, who is double-crossing who – and this took me out of the story.
I’m always partial to a good thriller and like to find debut authors, so I’ll be watching out for the next book from Patrick Worrall. It’s different, try it.
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If you like this, try:-
‘The Diamond Eye’ by Kate Quinn
‘A Hero in France’ by Alan Furst
‘V2’ by Robert Harris
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