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Extended Audio Sample Zugzwang, by Ronan Bennett Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (242 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ronan Bennett Narrator: Stephen Lang Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Zugzwang: A chess term used to describe a position in which a player is reduced to utter helplessness–he is obliged to move, but every move serves to make his position even worse.

The year is 1914, and St. Petersburg is spellbound by the international chess championship, even as the city seethes with revolutionary plots. One blustery April day, a respected newspaper editor is murdered in front of a shocked crowd. Five days later, Dr. Otto Spethmann, the celebrated psychoanalyst, receives a visit from the police. There has been another murder in the city–and somehow he is implicated. The doctor is mystified and deeply worried, as much for his young, spirited daughter as for himself. 

Meanwhile, he finds himself preoccupied by two new patients: Anna Petrovna, a society beauty plagued by nightmares with whom he is inappropriately falling in love, and the troubled genius Rozental, a brilliant but fragile chess master on the verge of a complete breakdown. As Dr. Spethmann is drawn deeper into the murderous intrigue, he finds that he, his patients, and his daughter may all be pawns in a game larger in scope than anything he could have imagined. Thrilling, romantic, and rife with intrigue both on the chessboard and off, Zugzwang is a masterpiece of literary suspense. Download and start listening now!

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Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Bachyboy | 2/16/2014

    " I really like this author but I found the chess references and the myriad Russian names a bit tough going at times. I enjoyed the 1914 St Petersburg setting with its political tensions and references to the Tsar. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Tommy Collison | 2/14/2014

    " Good book, enjoyed the Chess notation. The ending was poor, though, as if the author couldn't keep up with what he'd created. Is there such a thing as a thriller novel with too many twists? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jessica | 1/23/2014

    " I love broody, dark period pieces like this where allegiances are in constant flux and it's never quite clear who's a good guy and who's trying to kill you. Bennett gets that ambiguity perfectly right and offers up an intense story of Russia on the eve of revolution. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by JamesMarinero Marinero | 1/15/2014

    " Oh, the joys of serendipity - I turned this up in the laundry cum library at a marina in Sicily. I was never a chess person, but the plot is superbly woven, and the fact that I have been to St Petersburg illuminated more for me. I learned about the prelude to the Russian revolution, and hadn't appreciated that St P had been such a wealthy city. Anyway, a great book - and it is superbly well researched, dissecting Russian social strata very well. 4++ - nearly a 5. Oh for more books like this - entertaining and informative. "

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