I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Book Review - The Arms Maker of Berlin

 This weeks book is a historical spy/mystery/ thriller but mostly it's a work of fiction and as such should be judged mostly on it's entertainment value. I received Dan Fesperman's The Arms Maker of Berlin (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) right before dinner on Thursday and started to read it after dinner. Before I turned out the lights that night I had read over a third of it and had a hard time putting it down.

I can't do much better than this description from the dust jacket.

When Nat Turnbull, a history professor who specializes in the German resistance, gets the news that his estranged mentor, Gordon Wolfe, has been arrested for possession of stolen World War II archives, he's hardly surprised that,even at the age of eighty-four, Gordon has gotten himself in trouble. But what's in the archives is staggering: a spymaster's trove missing since the end of the war, one that Gordon has always claimed is full of "secrets you can't find anywhere else . . . live ammunition."

Yet key documents are still missing, and Nat believes Gordon has hidden them. The FBI agrees, and when Gordon is found dead in jail, the Bureau dispatches Nat to track down the material, which has also piqued the interest of several dangerous competitors. As he follows a trail of cryptic clues left behind by Gordon, assisted by an attractive academic with questionable motives, Nat's quest takes him to Bern and Berlin, where his path soon crosses that of Kurt Bauer, an aging German arms merchant still hoarding his own wartime secrets. As their stories and Gordon's-intersect across half a century, long-buried exploits of deceit, devotion, and doomed resistance begin working their way to the surface. And as the stakes rise, so do the risks . . .

The characters are well developed and the novel takes place both in the present and in Berlin and Switzerland in the mid 40's. Some of the characters are real like John Foster Dulles, America's spy chief in Switzerland during the war and Reinhard Heydrich, one of the architects of the Holocaust.

You also get some insight into the anti-Hitler resistance in Germany as much of the plot centers around the White Rose student movement.

I recommend this book for both it's entertainment and it's history but beware, once you start it's hard to put down. I had not heard of Dan Fesperman before but I am going to check out some of his earlier works.

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