Old pro Thayer (White Star, 1995, etc.) delivers a fast-moving and entertaining (if fanciful) account of how Hitler met his...

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FIVE PAST MIDNIGHT

Old pro Thayer (White Star, 1995, etc.) delivers a fast-moving and entertaining (if fanciful) account of how Hitler met his end toward the close of WW II. Concerned that Hitler might be able to prolong an almost-over conflict from an Alpine redoubt, FDR directs the OSS to liquidate the Nazi leader. Shortly thereafter, a hardcase US Ranger named Jack Cray is incarcerated in Colditz Castle, the Wehrmacht gasthaus for flight-minded POWs. After several false starts in the spring of 1945, bilingual Jack stages a spectacular escape from the Saxony stronghold and makes his violent way across a war-torn countryside toward Berlin. An alarmed Reich Security Service frees Otto Dietrich (a virtuoso detective unjustly imprisoned by the Gestapo) to track down the one-man wrecking crew before he can complete his unknown--but predictable--mission. Once in the bombed-out capital city, Jack (who blames himself for the death of his young wife in an auto accident) joins forces with resistance operative Katrin von Tornitz, the pretty and vengeance-minded widow of an Army officer executed for complicity in a plot to assassinate Hitler. At no small cost in angst and blood, the two manage to stay one step ahead of Dietrich, who comes to admire the hired gun's resilience and resourcefulness, while death-wish Jack ascertains that his target is holed up in an underground bunker. With help from a disaffected technician who'll do anything to gain the release of his only surviving son from the Soviets, Jack sabotages the subterranean bastion's ventilation system. In the hellish confusion that ensues, the intrepid hit man breaks in on a defenseless Hitler. Before he can make it back behind his own lines, however, Jack must reach a rapprochement with the dogged Dietrich and the aristocratic von Tornitz, both of whom remain true to the Fatherland--in their fashion. A slick period-piece in the estimable tradition of Geoffrey Household's Rogue Male.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 1997

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1997