During a routine mission, a troubled spy stumbles upon a cache of diaries—the lost accounts of a Jewish house servant brutalized by Adolf Hitler—in Driskell’s thriller.
Gage Hartline was once Matthew Schoenfeld, a military wunderkind hand-selected for the CIA’s special operations forces, until a clandestine mission goes horribly awry, ending in the deaths of two children. Blaming himself, Gage leaves the military behind, taking only assignments where he doesn’t need to invoke his license to kill. When a French intelligence agency offers him a simple job bugging a German customs office, Gage discovers a hidden collection of diaries penned by a Jewish housemaid named Greta Dreisbach while working in one of Adolf Hitler’s homes. Raped by the tyrant, Greta becomes pregnant and eventually escapes, although her journals stand as history-shaking proof that Hitler fathered a half-Jewish heir. Gage, accompanied by his young lover, Monika, sets out to find Hitler’s heir, but the incalculable value of the diaries soon catches the attention not just of his French employer, but also the vicious crime syndicate Les Glaives du Peuple. Driskell’s debut is a standard thriller, never wandering too far from the genre’s traditional conventions. Yet while it brings little new to the table, the book’s execution is highly competent and well paced, if occasionally repetitive as a means to keep its large cast up to speed. These characters are exaggerated, sensationalistic types—hard-nosed, honorable soldiers; sadistic criminal kingpins; beautiful but dangerously clueless women—that, while not entirely believable as people, are nonetheless recognizable and entertaining. Even more impressive is the novel’s pacing, which rarely lingers while giving each character the appropriate level of attention before their larger-than-life characteristics grow tiresome. Some of the novel’s more graphic scenes aren’t for the faint of heart, and even readers who might not consider themselves squeamish will still squirm at the vivid descriptions of torture and violence. Notably, the eponymous diaries don’t quite convey the pathos Gage experiences from them.
Uninventive and fairly exploitative, but still an engaging, enjoyable thriller.