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Review of In the Enemy’s House: The Secret Saga of the FBI Agent and the Code Breaker Who Caught the Russian Spies by Howard Blum

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As good as any fictional spy thriller

Howard Blum tells the fascinating story the race to capture the Soviet spy ring that passed the secrets of the atom bomb to the Soviet Union. The main characters are codebreaker Meredith Gardner and FBI agent Bob Lamphere, and Blum details how Gardner cracked fragments of the key Soviet codes, with Lamphere piecing them together to capture the Soviet spies.

The book reads like a novel and at places I did question how much this was based on fact or the authors suppositions, but at the end of the book Blum does assure the reader that all conversations or thoughts in the characters heads are backed up by documentary evidence.

It’s a pacey read, and to use a cliché quite a page turner. Although I was aware of many of the characters such as Klaus Fuchs, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg Blum does provide rich character background that give more depth and insight than a dry analytical account of the process involved.

The book ends with the execution of the Rosenbergs which Lamphere and Gardner were unable to prevent without disclosing that the codes had been broken.

A fascinating account of the early days of espionage in the Cold War.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher, but was not required to provide a positive review.

 

Review of Seasons of the Moon by Julien Aranda, Roland Glasser

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Beautifully written

Although listed as historical fiction this is more a reflection on life, circumstance and being true to yourself.

The story centres on farmers boy Paul, who aged 15 is saved by a Nazi soldier from being killed. Paul now finds this same soldier captured, and with his last gasps asks Paul to please find his daughter and to let her know that her father loved her.

So far so good, but this isn’t your regular WW2 tale as it evolves into a memoir of Paul’s life which takes the reader on a beautiful journey.

The book has quite a slow start and as other reviewers have commented it takes a while to lure you in, but once in, the story ebbs and flows in a lyrical fashion despite being a translation from French to English.

If you are expecting a formulaic World War 2 novel you will be pleasantly surprised by this moving and powerful debut novel.

My thanks go to NetGalley and the Publisher for the chance to read an advance copy of this book

Review of The Blood Card (Stephens & Mephisto Mystery #3) by Elly Griffiths

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Another solid very readable atmospheric crime thriller from Elly Griffiths

This is the third outing of the “Magic Men” and I’m really enjoying the characters.

It is May 1953 and England is on the cusp of crowning a new Queen. The murder of a gypsy fortune and the stabbing of their old boss from the Magic Men days are linked as DI Edgar Stephens investigates.

Loads of strong characters here and excellent period details that provide and enjoyable and compelling British whodunit.

Elly Griffiths continues to capture the seedy, down at heel feel of the English South Coast expertly creating another highly readable atmospheric crime thriller, with a great sense of time and place. I can’t wait for the fourth instalment of the “Magic Men”.

My thanks go to NetGalley and the Publisher for the chance to read an advance copy of this book.

Review of The Wall Between by Jesper Bugge Kold

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A gripping and moving story of the former East Germany.

Andreas lives in Copenhagen and receives a letter informing him that his father who he has never met has been stabbed to death in Berlin, and that he has inherited his flat. Keen to understand more about the father that his mother wouldn’t speak of he travels to Berlin to discover more.

Jesper Bugge Kold combines multiple timelines and characters to produce a brilliant story of the GDR, the Stasi and relationships. This book reminded somewhat of the film “Life of Others” and anyone who liked the film or is interested to the former East Germany should read this.

It’s tautly written but with some almost cinematic descriptions of Berlin. I found it an absolute page turner and read it within a day which is unusual for me.

Highly recommended.

I received this book free from Netgalley and was not required to write a positive review.

Review of The War in the West:: A New History: Volume 2: The Allies Fight Back 1941-43 (New History Vol 2) by James Holland

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James Holland again has avoided repetition of previous accounts of this period and delivered a fascinating and thought provoking book that covers not just the political, but also the economic and social aspects.

I did find this volume flowed a little less smoothly than the previous, but despite that there’s much to get your teeth into. Holland argues convincingly that Nazi Germany was a busted flush by 1941 without the resources or a clear plan of how to continue the war over such a vast geographical area with a German army built for short campaigns close to the Fatherland.

Again he has unearthed some never before seen personal accounts that really add to our knowledge. For example some rarely heard voices of the Italian Army in North Africa.

This is a thought provoking book that challenges many preconceptions about the war and comes to some controversial conclusions.

Recommended.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review of “Pearl Harbor: From Infamy to Greatness” by Craig Nelson

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Fast flowing new account of the attack on Pearl Harbor

Craig Nelson provides an expansive book that tells the often told story of the Pearl Harbor attack. It’s been a while since I’ve read Prange’s standard on this subject “At Dawn We Slept” so I have little to compare, however I found this a comprehensive account with some interesting later chapters covering how some of the characters fared in later life and the modern day Japanese and American perspective.

Divided into three parts it’s a substantial read at 500 plus pages but does flow at quite a pace. Part one covers Japanese-U.S. relations, the growing tension in the Pacific, and Japanese war planning. Part two covers the attack itself including midget submarines. Part three covers the aftermath of the attacks, rescue efforts, salvage efforts, as well as a whistle stop tour of the Pacific campaign to the dropping of the atomic bomb.

I’d recommend this for anyone looking for a present day view of the attack it’s ramifications both at the time and also to the present day.

I received this book free from Netgalley and was not required to write a positive review.