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TOP 50 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.
16 people found this helpful
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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.
7 people found this helpful
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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.
2 people found this helpful
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on 28 January 2017
28/1/17 It's the eve of World War 2 , Hitler is about to announce the invasion of Czechoslovakia . The Sudetenland is a province of German speakers under threat of oppression from the Czechs, Hitler's invasion will bring his people back to safety. However if Germany invades then France and therefore Britain would declare war on Germany. In Berlin a plot is being devised to overthrow Hitler, under great secrecy key officers of the army and police work together to develop their aims. Always watching , of course is the Gestapo , alert for any sign of treachery. Two friends Conrad and Theo , work on their plan ,the Gestapo are getting closer, suspicions are arisen and the friends find their lives in danger as time runs out.
Atmospheric cat and mouse drama set against the backdrop Berlin's streets and the frantic diplomatic attempts to avoid war.
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on 8 September 2013
When I started this book I thought it was going to be a bit heavy going but once I was into it I couldn't put it down. I studied WW2 history man years ago at school but didn't learn much about the events leading up to the war. This book kept me on the edge of my seat with the dramas unfolding around the central characters and also opened my eyes to the attitudes and failings of the British government at the time. I think too many generations have been brought up with an "us and them" attitude, whether it's us versus the Germans, us versus the Russians and of course us versus the whoever-the-hell-our-government-is-at-war-with at any given time. Therefore books such as this serve to show the reader that many decent people lived and died trying to do the right thing in these countries, which we may perceive as the "bad guys".
At the end of the book I'll admit that I was so caught up in the excitement that I found myself hoping for a result that I knew historically didn't happen :)
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on 22 May 2017
A decent prewar thriller based in 1938 Germany. Fiction but based on a what might have been scenario in an attempted coup to get rid of Hitler. Will most definitely appeal to those with a deep interest in that period of history. Not bad at all.

Ray Smillie
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on 18 September 2013
I've followed Michael Ridpath's books across Iceland and high finance, so being a keen reader of alternative history, I bought this one immediately. All I can say is that it kept me captivated - it rated up there with the best for seamlessly integrating fact and fiction. At the same time, it created highly believable characters (with the possible exception of Sophie) and clicked along at a fair rate.
It was very easy to immerse yourself in this being reality and you as the reader being there with it all. Sorry I've finished it - a great read.
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on 5 February 2014
I do read a lot, so maybe I'm a bit fussy and this may deserve more than 3 stars, but I got a bit bogged down with what can only be described as quite an original book for the genre, but was one of those books where, without giving spoilers, you seem to know when the central characters are going to face obstacles, a bit predicatable. Good use of historical figures and settings, but was not a real page turner for me, kept looking at my status bar to see how much left, not a great sign!
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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.
One person found this helpful
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on 2 January 2014
Ridpath has cleverly woven events surrounding the Munich agreement in 1938 and a connected plot to overthrow Hitler with the inclusion of a British/German main character. He appears to lean heavily on the second volume of R Evans' second volume of the History of the Third Reich. It is an enjoyable read , especially if you are interested in that period of history.
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