Dear reader, life is too short for crap books.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Your Dad Would Like This Better Than a Necktie

The Second Objective by Mark Frost

In the winter of 1944, the Nazis were staring down Allied armies on German borders, and defeat looked eminent. In a last-ditch effort, Hitler ordered an offensive that would later become known as the Battle of the Bulge, and included a plan called Operation Greif.

The operation involved approximately 2000 English-speaking German troops dressed in the uniforms of dead or captured American and British soldiers, and their objective was to sneak behind Allied lines and switch their road signs, take their bridges, and generally screw with their day. However, for a tiny group of these German soldiers, there was a nefarious second objective. All the soldiers involved in this second objective were either captured or killed... except for two, who were never accounted for.

Mark Frost's book is a fictionalized account of those soldiers, and of the NYPD detective turned military police who has to stop them.

This is the kind of old man book I usually stay far away from; however, Mark Frost was a co-creator and executive producer on Twin Peaks, so I made an exception. And I'm very glad I did.

Frost hones in on a single squadron chosen for the second objective and follows their actions without either losing sight of or getting bogged down in the huge battle that rages around them. And on top of that, it also manages to be pulpy as hell without either trivializing the war or turning it into a "Greatest Generation" love-in. It's just a good old balls to the wall, high stakes nail-biter with scary villains, a Bogey-tough hero, and a police procedural vibe that works surprisingly well with the war story.

I loved it, Potts loved it, and I suspect you will, too.

If you liked...: The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril by Paul Malmont or The Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett, this book is for you.


Anonymous said...

At the risk of suggesting more 'old man' books I would recommend Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir series as well as the spy novels of Alan Furst that are set in Europe in the 1930s.

mary_m said...

I just looked up some more about the Berlin Noir series and here is what I found out from Amazon:

"Now published in one paperback volume, these three mysteries are exciting and insightful looks at life inside Nazi Germany -- richer and more readable than most histories of the period. We first meet ex-policeman Bernie Gunther in 1936, in March Violets (a term of derision which original Nazis used to describe late converts.) The Olympic Games are about to start; some of Bernie's Jewish friends are beginning to realize that they should have left while they could; and Gunther himself has been hired to look into two murders that reach high into the Nazi Party. In The Pale Criminal, it's 1938, and Gunther has been blackmailed into rejoining the police by Heydrich himself. And in A German Requiem, the saddest and most disturbing of the three books, it's 1947 as Gunther stumbles across a nightmare landscape that conceals even more death than he imagines."

Holy crap, that sounds fantastic. Thank you for the recommendation!