Both a propulsive thriller and drama of an American cop reckoning with a family history of Nazism that runs deeper than he thinks, Eagle Ascending grabs readers hard from its opening pages as Whitfield blends gritty procedural realism with the possibility of occult horror. The suspense is threefold, as law enforcement tries to stop whatever the terrorists are planning, Krueger strives to uncover buried secrets, and readers parse the clues about what genre of thriller this ultimately will prove to be. The pulpy backstory involves Hitler’s mad quest for “the True Cross,” reputed to offer power over life and death, a fantastical element that, thanks to Whitfield’s careful framing of the tale, does not diminish the horror of actual real-world anti-Semitic terrorism, whose perpetrators do not need supernatural tchotchkes as justification for violence.
Grounding the story is Krueger, an engaging and relatable figure still shaken by his experience serving in Iraq—and freshly jolted by the truths he gets his mother to reveal. He’s a resourceful and effective hero, both in putting together the pieces of a conspiracy that ties together contemporary companies, Neo-Nazi militias, and ancient religious texts, and in escaping dangerous situations, in New York and on a globe-crossing hunt for truth. The hero’s haunted, but the action’s crisp.
Takeaway: An engaging thriller pitting a New York cop against Nazi terrorists, his own grandfather, and possible occult powers.
Great for fans of: James Herbert’s The Spear, Daniel Easterman’s The Seventh Sanctuary.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A