The Folks at Fifty-Eightby Michael Patrick Clark Published 01 Jan 1970
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Gerald Hammond is the exception to the rule; an honorable spy, whose lofty principles have brought him nothing but loneliness and isolation.
With the war in Europe at an end, Hammond returns to Washington only to find his unit disbanded and his wife moved out of the marital home.
Ostracized by the Washington elite, publicly humiliated by an unfaithful wife, and scorned by former friends and colleagues, he is forced to take a mundane job with an insurance company. . . But then comes the call.
The State Department wants him to rescue a young woman, trapped in Soviet East Germany. Should he succeed a plum job at The State Department awaits.
Desperate for deliverance from his humdrum existence, Hammond accepts the assignment.
He heads into enemy territory, unaware of the sinister force that sponsored his mission or of the unseen dangers that lie in wait. He only knows that he must somehow save the girl to save himself, but as his enemies close in, and ever-more disturbing revelations come to light, Gerald Hammond begins to wonder which poses the greatest threat. . . The enemy he runs from, the friend he runs to, or the girl he was sent to save?
"Fast paced thriller with lots of action - I couldn't put it down!!" - Amazon Reviewer
"Delicious spy novel, bold and graphic." - Amazon Reviewer
"A tremendous book - a definite page turner"- Amazon Reviewer
"This is the best spy novel I have read in quite some time" - Amazon Reviewer
"I purchased this based on the reviews, and it exceeded expectations" - Amazon Reviewer
"And be warned, there's bad language, sex, sadistic murders, regular murders, etc. in this book. It's a spy novel...stay out of the kitchen if you don't like this kind of heat." - Amazon Reviewer
"The Folks at Fifty-Eight" Reviews
"The Folks at Fifty-Eight" by Michael Patrick Clark is an Adult-Espionage Thriller. Most espionage books are escapist fantasies with cliché characters, plot twists and nonstop suspense.
___This eBook has plenty of suspense, plus it has a cavalcade of well-drawn characters, both fictitious and historical. In truth, the narrative covers the period when the OSS was devolving to form the CIA. The author must've done extensive research or acquired access to firsthand sources to have rendered the period so accurately. The narrative covers the perilous years between the final victories of WWII and the start of the Cold War. A foolish misunderstanding could've brought on Nuclear Holocaust instead of the 70-year relative "peace" which we've enjoyed to this day.
___Back then, human agents still performed most of the espionage chores. There were no satellite or drone photos to replace the dare-devils at ground zero.
___The cast of characters include sleuths from the Western and Eastern sides of the conflict as well as ex-Nazis whose invaluable info absolved them from justified punishments.
___The narrative is well-crafted and strewn with plausible characters who grapple with greed versus loyalty and fear versus courage. This isn't a book for close-minded folks. At the end you will be exposed to the realities of 20th-century power games and the underpinnings of democracy. Like all worthwhile novels, the novel will leave you with a banquet of food for thought.
___Absolutely recommended for all lovers of full-bodied espionage. Five Stars.
This book was hard to rate. Many strengths and quite a few problems. This is my first experience with Michael Patrick Clark and he seems to be a talented writer. It was good to have someone write about an almost literary "dead zone", the few years following WWII. His protagonist Gerald Hammond is developed enough to walk that fine line between "corny and too "perfect". Often this book drips of suspense and action, often but not always.
My biggest problem with this book is that the sex gets in the way of the intrigue, suspense and action. I usually don't complain about sex in a book but this one for the first two thirds of the book, was over the top. The sex was at times written in to aid the plot, but at times took up too many pages, was unnecessary and slowed down the flow of the story. The last third of the book was relatively sex free (relatively) and has the best writing and flow of the novel. So for me the first two thirds were a 2 star affair due the starting and stopping from sex. The next third a 5 star exhibit and the last 30 pages I'd give 6 stars. I guess that averages out to...
Michael Patrick Clark is a first rate storyteller. The Folks at Fifty Eight is the first volume of a trilogy, according his author's page. I'll be reading the rest of the Etzel Children saga, for sure. Make no mistake, though. This novel stands on its own as a complete story.
He paces The Folks at Fifty Eight like Len Deighton or Jack Higgins might. The storyline (so far) has the tone, if you will, of a Ludlum book.
Set at the end of WW2, the OSS has been disbanded and dubious alliances are formed as State Department jockeying goes on with other government branches. There's a noir feel in the Manhattan scenes, and he conveys the Soviet rampage through East Germany and East Berlin in a gripping manner that feels authentic. You can see the greyness that permeated everything in those bygone days, including the thinking that allowed power and control to trump morality and democracy; or at least that was a subtext for me as a reader.
There's plenty of sex, booze-fueled, fear-fueled, lust-fueled sex; sex that leads to love, death, treason and hate. All of this while keeping it original, and compelling.
The length of the book was just right for Kindle reading. All in all, a very 21st century look at the nadir of the 20th.
I received The Folks at Fifty-Eight as a first-reads winner.
The plot was great. There are many twists and turns and it took me much longer than it typically does to figure out the surprise ending.
The book does need some editing, however. There are many places where punctuation is missing, grammatical errors are committed, and words are misspelled. If I were the author, I would also rewrite some of the scenes. There are times where the dialogue is unrealistic and places where the dialogue is missing.
There is a passage in the beginning of the book that states that it is a traditional thriller, but the events and many of the characters are real. There is also a glossary and cast of characters at the end of the book. It would have been very interesting to see which of the characters are fictitious and which were real personalities around at the end of World War II.
Overall, it was an entertaining read and just needs a good clean-up.
This was a very confusing book, because it was really more like it was two books with a very weird segue between the two. This book is also riddled with horrible punctuation.
Part 1 was very good and gripping. Lots of interesting things going on. Then a main character disappears and we have several chapters of just a weird discussion on the sexual proclivities of characters we really hadn't met yet. Part 2 was not nearly as good, as the strange sex discussions continued here and there. The ending itself was not believable, as the major character does something completely out of character.
Complex and unbelievable spy vs. spy story, set in the days immediately following WWII. Too many characters, making the story very hard to follow, and, in the end, an incredible (as in not credible) explanation for all the goings-on.
Not too badly written, but there are many, many more of this genre that are much, much better.
My opinion? "Meh."