Thursday, January 19, 2012

Book Review: Amongst My Enemies by William F. Brown

Amongst My Enemies
Author: William F. Brown
Publication: Amazon Digital Services

Description: Inside an old German U-Boat rusting on the bottom of the Baltic are millions in gold bars, stolen art, and a secret that could tear NATO apart. The only one who knows the truth is Mike Randall, a battle-scarred American who survived four months in the frozen Hell of northern Germany at the end of the war. When he does speak up, he puts a target on his own forehead, one which the Russians, the West Germans, the U-boat's former owners, the Israeli Mossad, and even his own government quickly take aim at. Some want the gold, some want him dead, and some want proof about a high-ranking spy inside NATO itself. Randall's wants are much simpler. Caught between the Kremlin and a new, deadly, 4th Reich, he wants revenge and to satisfy some old debts with a steel-jacketed bullet. 

My Thoughts: This was a very suspenseful, edge-of-your seat thriller about the closing days of World War II and the political chaos the followed it. Mike Randall was a gunner on a B-17 until the plane was shot down over northern Germany with only he and his friend Eddie as survivors. They were sent to do forced labor in Konigsberg. Eddie develops gangrene and begs Mike to find a way to let him kill himself after invoking a promise that Mike go to Eddie's family after the war to let them know what happened. The descriptions of their hardships were so realistic that I felt I was there with them.

Shortly after Eddie's death Mike gets conscripted to load crates and boxes into a German U-boat and manages to stow away in the compartment with the crates. It seems the sub has been chosen by Martin Bormann as one of his treasure ships as he scrambles to get wealth out of Germany to South America. When the Captain finds Mike and realizes what is planned for his boat, he formulates a desperate plan. They aren't going to follow orders. They put Mike in a rubber boat and set him toward the shore of Sweden. But shortly thereafter, British bombers discover and sink the submarine. Mike is rescued by Swedish fishermen and spends three years in Sweden getting over the trauma of the war.

He returns to the United States and goes to visit Eddie's family. He is accepted as a family member by Eddie's father and his sister Leslie who has managed to grow up while Mike was recovering. Mike works there and begins a relationship with Leslie but he is determined to get revenge for the actions at the end of the war. When he sees a newspaper article saying that the U-boat captain who set him free survived the accident and is now a major player in the new NATO, Mike has to go to New York to see him. 

That really throws a kink into everyone's plans because it isn't his captain. The Russians have set this guy up as an agent. Mike and Leslie quickly get involved with the new Israeli spies, the Russians, and the exiled Germans who want their loot back. 

The story is told from a variety of viewpoints including Mike's, Martin Bormann's, his "strong right arm" and psychopath Heinz Kruger, and Verentsov, the Russian in charge of the change of admirals. Most of them converge off the coast of Sweden in the search for the sunken U-boat filled with treasure.

The story was exciting and engaging and really reminded me of some of the books written by Alistair MacLean that I read years ago. There was also a strong Tom Clancy feel in the machinations of the various spies (but without Clancy's techno-jargon) and character who was an ordinary guy who needs to survive in a arena that is foreign to him. Mike was an interesting character - an ordinary man who goes to extra-ordinary ends to get what he feels is justice. 

If you are looking for a Cold War thriller, this one was very engaging.  

Favorite Quote:
Dante had it wrong. Hell wasn't a blazing inferno filled with the mournful cries of the damned; it was the frozen plains of Northern Germany, and it could be quiet as a grave.
I was sent a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.

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