A historical thriller series starter about the simultaneous rise of the Porsche automobile and the Third Reich.
Debut author Warner begins this epic adventure in the late 1800s, when a young boy in Austria by the name of Ferdinand Porsche proves himself to be quite a precocious engineer. Porsche, much to the dismay of his father, believes that the future of Europe is tied to that of the automobile. Later, following World War I, the hardworking younger man is, of course, proven to be correct; he’s also become a major figure on Europe’s Grand Prix racing circuit. His designs, when piloted by hellbent drivers, such as Bernd Rosemeyer, smash people’s expectations of what an automobile can do—even if some of the cars’ drivers happen to die in the process. Porsche and his team end up being the pride of Germany, as well as personal favorites of Chancellor Adolf Hitler. Engineers across Europe, however, refuse to sit idly as the Germans steamroll the Grand Prix—and some suspect that they’re using their new technologies in warlike ways. Enter Lady Beatrice “Bea” Sunderland, an Englishwoman who loves speed—and especially, piloting fast airplanes. She’s recruited by the British government to infiltrate German racing’s inner circle and find out just what sort of schemes may be under way involving new tech. It turns out that the schemes are many, indeed, and it’s also revealed that the Nazis have ties to American industrialists and even the Illuminati; they also seem to be obsessed with occult practices. Sunderland undergoes rigorous training before embarking on her adventure, but will it be enough to save her and her country from the wicked forces at play?
Porsche, Hitler, and Sunderland are just a few of the many characters involved in a tale that spans decades. Keeping track of every minor character—or even just the members of the Auto Union race team—is no simple matter. Some of the descriptions only make things more difficult to understand; this is the case when it’s said of two characters, without explanation, that “Trust was established, and they genuinely liked one another.” However, even if the players themselves aren’t always very dynamic, the many machines around them are. The author offers loving details about the Royal Air Force’s Hurricane Mk I (“Time to 15,000 FT: 6.3 MIN”), for instance, and about Me-109 fighters, which come equipped with “the newest and most powerful version of the Mercedes 601 engine.” However, some of the finer points of the plot sometimes get lost amid the descriptions of racing, war planning, engineering feats, occult information, and government intrigue. Later portions of the story, which is split into three parts, venture more deeply into the realm of the fantastical—involving not only brainwashing, but also an experimental plane and some very angry Nazis. Although some of Sunderland’s final triumphs may be hard to swallow, they can hardly be said to be dull.
An overcrowded but propulsive war story that delves into the nuts and bolts of technology.