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)
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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.
"A war story with a difference"
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.
"A thriller that gathers pace"
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.
"Gripping, with a good sense of time and place."
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.
"Good plot, but lacking something"
The idea behind the story was good - a man's wife suddenly disappears against the background of the second world war. Is it because of the main protagonist's (can't really call him a hero) post-traumatic stress or some conspiracy? He is desperate to find out what has happened and be re-united with his wife and child. Good premise, but the execution is lacking. First, the main figure seems to have no way of tackling the problem other than as a bull at a gate, constantly angry and constantly on the verge of or actually losing any control. And he is like this all the time. For an intelligent man he never actually applies any intelligence to the problem. Secondly, some major things happen very easily and unbelievably for him. One phone call and a bit of blackmail and he's suddenly travelling to the USA with a visiting fellowship to Yale, in the midst of wartime travel restrictions and the Battle of the Atlantic,,,hmmm. Finally the author make some basic errors in getting the details right - referring to First Class post and container ships (which didn't exist then) and getting an academic character to refer to the meteorite theory of mass extinction of the dinosaurs which didn't come into being until the 1980s. So it was an OK listen, but it could have been better.
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.
"A Terrific Thriller"
None stop terrific fun. Brilliantly read.
His best yet, and not to be missed!
"Dull and irritating"
The main character, James Zenner, is permanently angry. He hits his wife and traumatises his two year old son. After his wife leaves him in fear he sets off after her as if expecting that she will throw herself into his arms when he finds her. Before he leaves his house he throws a metal object through his kitchen window and smashes his expensive crockery. He shouts and rants at everyone he comes into contact with. A tiresome plot and how I listened through to the end I do not know. Wasted my money buying this book. The narration was fine.
"Very well written and atmospheric tale."
I had imagined that it would be a "Nazis come to Britain" tale but was wrong. It was a thriller without too much blood! As another reviewer mentioned, I found the main character a bit of a self pitying whinger and thought this padded out the story too much. However, I enjoyed the book. I found the narrator - who I think is exceptionally good normally - a little bit too hammy at points. Sorry!
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