The darkest secrets of World War II... finally revealed. Europe is ablaze. America is undecided about joining the fight against Nazism. And James Zennor, a brilliant, troubled, young Oxford don is horrified. He returns one morning from rowing to discover that his wife has disappeared with their young son, leaving only a note declaring her continuing love. A frantic search through wartime England leads James across the Atlantic and to one of America's greatest universities, its elite clubs and secret societies - right to the heart of the American establishment. And in his hunt for his family, James unearths one of the darkest and deadliest secrets of a world at war...
©2012 Sam Bourne (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
"Ingeniously constructed ... page-turner which maintains the tension ... a strong sense of place; the contrast between rationed and blacked-out Oxford and the faux medieval abundance of New Haven, Connecticut is especially well done." (Observer)
"A compelling story that combines the personal traumas of war, its headline dramas and the tragic tension that can arise between them. A disturbing delight.." (A D Miller, author of Snowdrops)
Whilst the story is fictional it is cleverly based on a series of actual events which occurred during the early years of WW2. An arrangement between Yale and Oxford University meant that wives and children of the privileged classes were shipped to America for their protection when it was thought that Germany might invade England and America had not yet committed to helping the allies. Dr James Zennor arrives home early one morning to find his wife and child have disappeared and so begins the trail of intrigue. I found the characters interesting, the book extremely well written, well read by Julian Rhind Tutt and without giving anything away, I found the conclusion to be well crafted and satisfying. Will be dipping into another Sam Bourne book quite soon.
This is the first book I've encountered by the author and will certainly be seeking out more. The story starts slowly as one gets to know the characters. I needed to concentrate as the early chapters switch back and forth between the Spanish Civil War and the early years of the Second World War to establish the back story of the main character Dr Zenna. As the story unfolds it becomes an extraordinary thriller that reminded me of Robert Goddard's books where a man is pitted against unknown malign forces in his search for the truth. The book really gathers pace once Dr Zenna begins his quest to find his wife who has mysteriously disappeared. I couldn't stop listening as I was eager to find out what would happen next.
I was fascinated to learn that the background to the story is based on facts that emerged after the War and the author has cleverly woven in a fictitious story to fit in with the facts.
The narrator is very good.
As a REAL Sam Bourne fan I was giddy with excitement when I started listening to this. The 'hero' of the part is somewhat of an anti-hero who has psychological issues that form an interesting side plot. Not S. Bourne's best yarn IMHO but that may be because of my lack of ability to delve into the story at the required depth. The basic premiss though is really fascinating and there is further reading suggested by the author, Well worth a read/listen.
An interesting thriller, thankfully without car chases, shoot-outs etc, that kept me gripped. I also enjoyed the background information on the Spanish Civil War, 1936 Olympics, USA isolationism and eugenics. There was an excellent sense of place and Julian Rhind Tutt read it all very well.
A different perspective from which to view the events leading up to WW2. The human interest storyline complemented the factual background. Much food for thought. The narrator was fantastic on accents - the best I have heard, you would think it was a different reader for each of the male voices.
None stop terrific fun. Brilliantly read.
His best yet, and not to be missed!
Another terrific novel by Sam Bourne. I can't wait to read more of his books. This is on a par with The Final Reckoning which I just loved.
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