Dyer excels at capturing this thriller’s pastoral backdrop, with farmers riding their livestock on the rural roads, cafes filled with colorful townspeople and enticing food, and a monastery housing secrets behind its ancient walls and between its men of God. Whether the action takes place out in the open or in a poorly lit backroom, readers will feel the tension as Conor and company try to locate the missing physicist before the Nazis do, even when, in the cloisters, intriguing conversations arise about humanity’s capacity to wield godlike power in the form of atomic weapons… and whether or not we have a right to such power.
From beginning to end the story enthralls with its crisp action, high stakes, and clever twists and turns. Dyer’s like a puppeteer pulling the strings of readers’ imaginations. The cast offers a welcome range of personalities, and each gets their fifteen minutes of fame. While some action/espionage tales fall short on their character development, Dyer does a fantastic job at keeping his spies, monks, and heroes well rounded without becoming Mary Sues. (Committed to getting the job done, Conor’s not above punching an assailant in the groin.) His people are sometimes flawed but not without their redeeming qualities, and they always rise compellingly to the challenge in whatever history-shaking danger they face.
Takeaway: This rip-roaring, Nazi-punching World War II thriller will keep spy fans on the edge of their seats.
Great for fans of: Alan Furst’s Under Occupation, Greg Iles’s Black Cross.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A