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Black Cross | [Greg Iles]

Black Cross

It is January 1944 - and as Allied troops prepare for D day, Nazi scientists develop a toxic nerve gas that will repel and wipe out any invasion force. To salvage the planned assault, two vastly different but equally determined men are sent to infiltrate the secret concentration camp where the poison gas is being perfected on human subjects. Their only objective: destroy all traces of the gas and the men who created it - no matter how many lives may be lost...including their own.
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Publisher's Summary

It is January 1944 - and as Allied troops prepare for D day, Nazi scientists develop a toxic nerve gas that will repel and wipe out any invasion force.

To salvage the planned assault, two vastly different but equally determined men are sent to infiltrate the secret concentration camp where the poison gas is being perfected on human subjects. Their only objective: destroy all traces of the gas and the men who created it - no matter how many lives may be lost...including their own.

©1995 Greg Iles; (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"This stunning, horrifying, mesmerizing novel will keep readers transfixed from beginning to end....From the very first page, Greg Iles takes his readers on an emotional roller-coaster ride, juxtaposing tension-filled action scenes, horrifying depictions of savage cruelty, and heart-stopping descriptions of sacrifice and bravery. A remarkable story from a remarkable writer." (Booklist)
"A thriller that really thrills...on fire with suspense." (Stephen King)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (957 )
5 star
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4.1 (616 )
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3 star
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Story
4.3 (618 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (13)
Performance
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  •  
    Craig Seattle, WA, United States 11-11-13
    Craig Seattle, WA, United States 11-11-13 Member Since 2007

    I teach. I Listen. I trust your judgment as a fellow listener.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "WWII Fiction Needs a Modicum Plausibility"

    If you find yourself saying, "Why did they do that?" -- or asking the question, "Wouldn't that kill them?" -- then you are listening to Black Cross. Naturally we expect commando missions are fraught with danger, but this venture is so far-fetched and ill-conceived that it could only be a work of fiction (even if that is the genre). There was absolutely nothing about the events in this story that made me say, "Yep, that's real!" At one point I found myself wondering, "Why would they do that when one bombing mission would address the whole problem."

    The storyline probably had it's origins in a book about bombing a very bad Nazi place but the author realized that "death from the air" lacks all the emotional drama of hideous medical experiments on humans. Racking up up some ghoulish points for the reviewers and editors may have lead to some the very poor rewriting decisions (all surmise on my part of course). Add to the horror a concentration camp romance and you have all the makings for kitsch writing in very poor taste.

    I am not going to recommend this book to my fellow listeners. It plays our emotions intentionally (and cheaply). Concentration Camp stories are best left for the tellers of non-fiction or those fiction writers that have the capacity to explain the truly horrid without the need to interject cheap romance to gain our sympathies.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    brett 06-28-13
    brett 06-28-13 Member Since 2010

    Homemaker Dad

    HELPFUL VOTES
    44
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    "WW2 secret mission"
    Would you listen to Black Cross again? Why?

    Probably not


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Stern and Brigadier Smith


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Emergency tracheotomy


    Who was the most memorable character of Black Cross and why?

    Brigadier Smith . He knew what he had to get done


    Any additional comments?

    A moving tale , emotional and exciting . Love it

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Houston, TX, United States 05-09-10
    David Houston, TX, United States 05-09-10 Member Since 2008

    Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Improbable but engrossing"

    Iles spins a story which involves the reader enough to allow one to overlook its rather frequent improbabilities. This is a straight ahead "mission into enemy territory" story, well told and nicely paced so that we don't linger long enough to ask a lot of inconvenient questions. So it works. It also manages to ask some troubling old questions about how we calculate acceptable losses when we take up arms against evil. As a result, it has a nicely unsettling quality to it which somewhat compensates for its lapses in believability.
    Dick Hill is a fine reader, but he is definitely more in his element with the Georgia accent of the central character than he is when he assays the various British voices in the book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Char Omaha, NE, United States 10-27-09
    Char Omaha, NE, United States 10-27-09 Member Since 2008
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    "Gut Wrenching Glimpse of History"

    I am old enough to know about this time in history. And I have seen enough documentaries to make me sick at all of it. But it is still a part of our history!! It is not pretty, it is something that makes you still in this day and age to wonder about the black side of humanity. Greg Isles mostly does murder mysteries. This was written in 1995 and is incredibly awesome in the writing and I have to tell you that I would not have gotten the true emotions were it not for Dick Hill as narrator. I think that narrating this had to make him totally sad and emotional which is why it came across so incredible. I could never have gotten these emotions if it not were for Dick Hill as narrator. It is not something you will forget anytime soon. It does not matter if it was true or not, we all know that very many things like this happened. One cannot feel totally good at the end of a book so real as this but it is something we need to know about. I am humbled at this book.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D Dowdy 11-05-09
    D Dowdy 11-05-09 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great!!!"

    Could not put it down

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    PAR-TEE 12-10-14
    PAR-TEE 12-10-14 Member Since 2012

    Bongoman

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Just a really great story..."

    The plot, characters, and narration are great!!! I can only tell you I really enjoyed this story, and am sad the author gave up this genre for mysteries. The story reached out and grabbed me in with the characters. I empathized with their trial and tribulations and actually got emotional at different parts in the story. I highly recommend this book if you are into historical fiction!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather Shaw 10-12-14
    ratings
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    "Amazing Historical Fiction"

    Great, challenging and believable story that is anchored by a stunning performance by Dick Hill. The 21 hrs never dragged and thankfully I found another of Greg Iles's stories narrated by Dick Hill and was again blown away by the quality. If you like historical fiction you will LOVE this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Downhill_Run 09-28-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    Story
    "It only got ones because I couldn't give zeros"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    If the main characters weren't so unlikable. Even the "good guys" were jerks.


    What was most disappointing about Greg Iles’s story?

    It never really got interesting.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Dick Hill?

    He wasn't great, but he wasn't really the problem.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    It kept me awake in traffic


    Any additional comments?

    First book from Audible that I have been disappointed with. I can see why it was on sale.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Loeffler OK 09-27-14
    Scott Loeffler OK 09-27-14 Member Since 2006
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    "Ok WWII thriller"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I struggled with this book, as I really wanted to like it but parts just seemed to drag. Actually had to fast forward through a few chapters just to keep it moving.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Actually took forever to get to the action. the parts of life in the camp did not add anything to this story for me.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Dick Hill’s performances?

    I may be in the minority here but I do not enjoy a Dick Hill book anymore. His constantly whiny female voices are killing me. Add that to his uneven tones and volumes I really will avoid his work for awhile


    Was Black Cross worth the listening time?

    50/50 here. Good premise but dragged a lot and seemed like more more work than fun in the end.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BookReader Chicago, IL, United States 09-19-14
    BookReader Chicago, IL, United States 09-19-14 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Black Cross"
    Any additional comments?

    Narrated by the amazing Dick Hill, Black Cross is a long listen, over twenty hours. The story begins with the death of WWII veteran Michael McConnell, who, typical of all war veterans, has never conveyed any details of his service, neither to his wife nor his son. An old companion, aware of these secrets, seeks out McConnell's son, and deems that some amazing heroics and history needs told or forever lost. The book is the narration of Michael McConnell’s horrific tale.

    There is latitude taken by the author, as it pertains to point of view and writing technique. The story is supposed to be a documented history, as witnessed by Michael McConnell. Several scenes, most in fact, are such that McConnell cannot and doesn't witness them, the scenes include other ancillary characters and it’s never exactly clear how McConnell could be aware of these instances. For example, conversations between Churchill and his generals while McConnell is working in a lab at Oxford. Scenes that take place between two women in a concentration camp, or between a concentration camp prisoner and an SS agent. How can these events be conveyed without ever having been witnessed by McConnell himself? Much of the story is basically hearsay.

    This conundrum aside, the tale is gripping and a sad commentary of the inhumanity inflicted by humans upon each other. Greg Iles thought Black Cross was one of his best efforts … it is, albeit distressing and terribly sad. Although fiction, the basics of the atrocities inflicted by Germany are true.

    Excellent narration, of course, by Dick Hill. Well worth the credits.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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