A suspenseful World War II thriller based on actual events.
Kurt Nordstrum is part of a ragtag resistance that wants to take Norway back from the Nazis and from the puppet dictator, Vidkun Quisling. The war is going badly for Germany, and rumors among the Quislings have it that the Norsk Hydro plant in southern Norway is Hitler’s “golden goose,” though nearly no one understands why. The Nazi defeat at Stalingrad gives Hitler “a new urgency to develop a weapon that could tilt the war his way.” He desperately needs the “heavy water”—deuterium oxide—the Norsk plant secretly produces; it is critical to the making of an atomic bomb. Norsk is set atop unscalable cliffs above an impenetrable gorge, is connected by a single suspension bridge, and is under constant heavy guard. British Special Operations assigns Nordstrum and his small team a virtually impossible mission: penetrate the plant and destroy the heavy water supply and the means of its production. The task is extraordinarily dangerous—an earlier attempt results in the “loss of forty elite men,” so the Norwegians are chosen for “one last raid.” Tension permeates the pages even for readers who know the historical outcome. The skill and bravery of the saboteurs are not exaggerated. The real saboteurs’ task was virtually impossible, and they did it anyway. So the author didn’t have to invent this plot—history handed it to him, and the story has been told before. (Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris star in the 1965 movie The Heroes of Telemark.) But Gross brings his characters to life, even Nordstrum’s traitorous nemesis, Dieter Lund, who is charged with protecting Norsk Hydro “at all costs.” And it’s winter, so expect great skiing scenes.
A terrific story filled with tension and surprises right to the end. That’s two World War II winners in a row for Gross (The One Man, 2016, etc.).