THE STAR OF ISTANBUL, by Robert Olen Butler

2/series. This is as close to literary fiction as I need a thriller to be. Fabulous, intricate, subtle. Action-packed, with a strong thread of sensuality and sex running through it almost from the first page. Christopher "Kit" Marlowe Cobb, a Chicago newspaperman, is sent to Europe by his paper, with the blessings of the American secret service. He's on the Lusitania (World War One history buffs will immediately say, "Uh oh."), on the trail of a German-American suspected of spying for the Germans. Kit Cobb sees the German contact the beautiful Selene Bourgani, an internationally-known movie star. Click for more...
What's the connection between her and the German? Is Selene what she seems to be? Is anything what it seems to be? The action moves from on board the doomed ship to London, then on to Istanbul.
A stellar tour de force by a phenominal writer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his 1993 story collection A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain. Listed as a thriller, there are those of us that could term it a historically-based love story with a lot of non-horizontal action. One of the aspects I most enjoyed is the completely masculine viewpoint; this novel just reeks of testosterone-with-a-heart. This is a 5. The sex, boy oh boy, is a 2.5.