ANALYSIS: "Kino" is a book which I would rate as an A- but I would still recommend as it has some great stuff mixed with some more common such, while the last part raises it above the "run of the mill" thriller with its "save the world, etc" that it threatened to devolve into.
I believe the author missed writing an unforgettable book by going too much the Hollywood way with chases, men in black, etc - though luckily he backs away in the end from that aspect which ultimately looks even more pointless. I also found the comparisons of the McCarthy era and later of Bush's invasion of Iraq with Nazi Germany beyond the pale and that aspect is even clearer today in the "new era" of drone executions and take no prisoners navy seals assaults ordered by our Nobel Peace Prize winner president to the unembarrassed silence and even cheering of the former Bush critics. As another negative, in the Net Galley e-arc copy I read there were also a few historical mistakes like situating Pearl Harbor in 1943, but those may have been corrected.
However the good parts - the diary of Kino about his life which arrives into the hand of his granddaughter Mina and later the revelations of his still living 92 year old wife, Mina's grandma though she has been estranged from her son for ages, the portrait of the Weimar republic and the sketches of Nazi Germany, together with the examination of the role of art in society - are just great stuff and I'd rather read those 100+ pages and the mostly standard present day thriller that fills in the rest, than many other books.
Where the book misses its greatest potential is in the sff aspect which the author uses to justify the chases and men in black as Kino's movies..., well read the book to find out why they are believed to be important even today. That part is sadly glossed over as if the author wanted to write a "realistic thriller" and was embarrassed to delve too much into the sfnal; too bad, as the potential loss there is significant, but at least the finale of the novel stands back from the men in black and that was a big plus for me.
Overall the pages mostly turn by themselves and with few exceptions when the men in black appear the book is quite the page turner, but I still wish the author would have had the courage to go the sff route and embrace fully that aspect.