by Andrew Gross (Macmillan) ISBN 9781509822812
Why would a man risk his life for someone he has never met? That is precisely what Nathan Blum has agreed to do. He is a young intelligence lieutenant in Washington D.C. Three years ago he was in Jewish ghetto in Krakow, from where he managed to escape.
He joined the army looking for a better future having lost his family who had been murdered by the Nazis. He decodes messages from Poland, which is occupied by the Nazis. The US government now asks him to go back to Europe to rescue one man from a concentration camp in Poland. This is a risky mission, if not impossible.
Alfred Mendl is a man in his fifties spending his final days in a Nazi death camp in Poland. He has also lost his family to the Nazis. He is a renowned physicist whose life work has been burned and completely destroyed by the Nazis. He and only one other in the world have this knowledge. The other is working for the Nazi war machine. His life is totally hellish and miserable. The only occasional pleasure that he has is watching a game of chess.
Although it is a work of fiction, the situation in the camps is based on fact. It is also fact that the US is seeking to counteract the Nazis with a weapon to end the war called the Manhattan Project 1944. Andrew Gross has written together with James Patterson as well as solo. This may lead you to believe this is just another thriller but this book goes beyond that.
The story is believable and the characters draw you in. You can feel the ghastly atmosphere and utter ruthlessness of the guards and the despicable behaviour of their supervisors. Their hatred and cruelty is tangible. The contrasts in each chapter enrich the story and add to its power. The suspense is compelling and completely gripping right till the end.
I felt shattered and shaken to the core by the end. It was a great read. I can imagine it being made into a fantastic film. Highly recommended.