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4.0 out of 5 stars74
4.0 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 August 2013
What a cracking story! I've enjoyed Mr Ridpath's Iceland series and was unsure whether a book set in Nazi Germany, on the brink of war, would be credible and engaging.

The characters rang true; their language, attitudes, backgrounds and their interplay all went to give them depth and make their conflicts and motivation plausible. The period detail was significant and informed. I felt as if I was in Berlin, with the central characters, sharing their fears and hopes. The difficulties of being Jewish were explored with sensitivity and compassion. The plot was sufficiently complicated to be intriguing. Set in the context of Hitler's proposed invasion of Czechoslovakia, and a secret plan to depose the nasty Nazi, it presents a clever meld of fact and fiction. I found the period detail rich and could visualise buildings and their setting, without feeling overwhelmed by extraneous information. A clever and interesting take on what might have been and why. Informed and entertaining, I really enjoyed it.
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on 1 July 2013
This is historical fiction of a very high order, with fact and fiction so closely and skilfully blended and intertwined that it is never easy to be quite sure where one begins and the other ends: the author's note at the end of the book does give considerable help in this regard, but I would urge you not to look at it until you have read the book itself - just dive in and enjoy it first at the basic level of a gripping thriller.

That done, though, this is a book with higher levels too; it is almost documentary at times, and as you go on you may be surprised to learn just how much of it is either recorded historical fact, or at least closely based on fact with just a few tweaks. It is valuable too for highlighting the existence and extent of resistance to Hitler and National Socialism within Germany itself, and even in the years before the outbreak of war in September 1939 - although it did not of course end then. That is a story which deserves to be far more widely known and told, and the fact that the resistance was ultimately unsuccessful (partly due for whatever reason to lack of outside support, it has to be said) in no way detracts from its intrinsic worth, or from the vision, courage and self-sacrifice of those involved with it. This book goes some small way towards redressing the balance.
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on 19 December 2013
I should have enjoyed this book more than I did. I'm very interested in this period of German history and I enjoy thrillers. The benchmark for this type of novel was and remains 'The Day of the Jackal.' This book, unfortunately, comes nowhere close.

On the plus side, the sense of time and place - Germany and, in particular, Berlin, in 1938 - is impressive. The author has clearly done his research well, and that includes the real people involved in tentative anti-Hitler activities. Regrettably, though, the fictional characters come over as tediously two-dimensional. The reader feels little involvement in the lives and fate of the cardboard cut-out protagonists. There is little in the way of character development and not much credibility in their barely displayed thoughts and emotions.

This is a pity as there is a strong story to be told here. It just isn't in this novel.
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VINE VOICEon 11 December 2014
Dennis Wheatley wrote a book called "Traitor's Gate" - one of his Gregory Sallust novels set in WW2, and although this is completely different, Ridpath does show some similarities in his handling of Nazi-related material to produce an almost swashbuckling thriller that combines both a period feel and throwback to simpler, more direct storytelling times.

The bulk of the action centres around a possible plot to get rid of Hitler as Europe approached the 1938 crisis around the possible German invasion of Czechoslovakia, and the political and diplomatic posturing around the rights of the Sudeten Germans. Ridpath has clearly done his homework on the period, and combines interesting detail and real characters with some typically fast and furious action sequences. It's certainly in the mould of Jack Higgins in terms of style and ease of reading.

The second half of the book feels a tiny bit laboured, with Ridpath having the explain the diplomacy behind the scenes in some depth in order to give context to the situations his fictional characters then operate in, but that said, it's still pacy enough.

Unlikely to trouble the likes of Philip Kerr and David Downing in terms of becoming an authorative fictional voice with books set in this period, it is nevertheless entertaining enough, even though it doesn't offer much that is new.
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on 24 December 2013
Well crafted characters, a believable plot and the depth of writing to keep a reader truly entertained. I'd heartily recommend it.
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on 23 July 2013
An enjoyable read and the period atmosphere is quite authentic,although at times it felt like the author had been reading the Robert Harris Manual on How to Write a Nazi-Germany-based Thriller (Rule #1: mention a Berlin place name on every third line). I had somehow hoped The Plot and its machinations was going to be painted more vividly and occupy centre stage but it felt like it was more in the background. Worth a try anyway.
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on 2 May 2014
A pre war Berlin tale of intrigue. In my opinion there are better tales, better characters in other books that use this period of history as a back drop. Check out Bernie Guenther or pick up the Station series before settling for this one.
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on 17 January 2014
I really enjoyed this....lots of tension and an insight of Berlin in those changing times.I have read many historical accounts about how Herr Hitler's' rise and how Germany wished for nothing more than to be a powerful nation once more but Hitler had an entirely different agenda....if only this coup of 1938 had happened and Hitler had been killed the war would not have happened.but it did and perhaps the world had to endure Hitler so that the new world would have a new understanding of EVIL
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on 12 October 2013
Fascinating insight into the story of how there were German soldiers and others who wanted Hitler overthrown right from the beginning.

Ridpath has done a great job weaving it into an exciting story despite the fact that you knew the outcome. I even found myself googling people and facts to find out what was true and what was fiction.

If you like Ridpath's other books I don't think you'll be disappointed. I wasn't.

Good stuff.
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on 24 March 2014
I think once you have enjoyed the writings of Phillip Kerr and Alan Furst any other World War Two book centering on German politics tends to pale by comparison. Ridpath is a good writer but this book tends to drag a bit as you know pretty well what the outcome will be. I wouldnt waste my time with this one although I have to say it's OK but nothing more.
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