Hitler's Secret by Rory Clements
|Hitler's Secret by Rory Clements|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: This certainly is not the most convincing 'what-if' thriller to cover WWII, but it has enough in the way of kinetic machinations to satisfy the genre fan.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 432||Date: January 2020|
|External links: Author's website|
So, Hitler had a secret? Two, if you include the reproductive detail mentioned in a certain sing-song aspersion. But this is a secret that is counter to that, and in fact is a secret that Hitler himself doesn't even know about. His neice, Geli Raubal, the attractive young woman he seemed to be very close to in the early 1930s, had had his daughter behind his back. Protected under a false identity ever since, the girl is completely ignorant of her past, and the truth is a very rare thing. Martin Bormann, the 'gatekeeper' to Hitler and his right hand man, knows – and is desperately intent on wiping the slate clean and removing all connected with her existence from the Reich. So it's down to Tom Wilde, an American history professor at Oxbridge, to go in and extract her, in this most shadowy race against time.
This book certainly has a firm ground in the truth for all the 'what if' suggestions that inspired it. The whole Hitler/Raubal relationship has been the subject of countless speculations, and smutty click-bait articles posing as journalism. Wilde's cover story, of providing better fuel efficiency for the drive into Russia, was certainly a sore point for the Nazis, with their fuel draining and their supply lines stretching thin. What convinced less was the very fact of Wilde being chosen for the mission – the book is almost embarrassed to mention how implausible it would be to have a novice spy to try and get a wanted girl across Germany's borders, but it does mention it more than once, rather than resolve the issue. We get dripfed instead some past history of 'action', seeming anti-Germanic activity, and mention of boxing, all of which made me think this was a part of a series featuring Wilde I'd not been told about.
Still, this isn't strictly a historical spy story. We're told the entirety of the girl's relevant back-story in one infodump, rather than by the genre norm of piece-meal flashbacks. All of which allows for us to watch Wilde and his list of colleagues, employers and other companions, on their dramatic chase-like achievements. This then is more of a ticking-bomb, escape thriller than a straight espionage novel. But that's not to say the unbelievable things stop; not the only slightly unlikely thing to happen is for a solo person utilising an underground bunker to have the wherewithal to put the leaves etc back on top of its trapdoor, from within. Also, people are told to shop for clothes in Stockholm, albeit in a neutral country, of a wartime Sunday evening.
Still, I did find everything, from the drab Berlin to the ins and outs of safe houses in the Home Counties, and academia, all well evoked. There certainly is no end of machination, intrigue and plain Nazi violence to appease the doubting reader, and the book effortlessly moves from drama point to drama point. It has a healthy balance of goodies and baddies, both in the US and UK and for the Axis powers, and so can provide some decent entertainment. Some raised eyebrows, mind, but some decent entertainment.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
One of the many books expanding the timeline and showing the fallout of the war is The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl and Don Bartlett (translator).
You can read more book reviews or buy Hitler's Secret by Rory Clements at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Hitler's Secret by Rory Clements at Amazon.com.
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