A pulpy World War II spy thriller that explores the philosophical problem of evil.
As Allied forces approached Berlin, Adolf Hitler hid underground in a bunker, where he decided to kill himself instead of surrendering. But in Benell’s debut, Hitler makes one last attempt to secure the future of the Nazi empire before turning a gun on himself: He sends an encrypted message to his top field agent, Franz Ubel. Code-named the Wolf, Ubel spends most of his time in a remote alpine cabin when he isn’t assassinating enemies of the Third Reich. Now, he’s entrusted with recovering Hitler’s greatest secret, an ancient artifact hidden in the Führer’s mountain refuge, the Eagle’s Nest. But the Wolf isn’t the only one headed for the Alps. His lover, a British double agent, comes along for the ride, not knowing that her cover’s already been blown or what Ubel has in store for her. And on the other side of the Atlantic, Lieut. Dylan Murphy, a naïve young naval intelligence officer, intercepts and deciphers the Wolf’s communications with Hitler. A Catholic seminary dropout desperate for a real adventure in the field, Murphy joins a British expedition to beat the Wolf to the Eagle’s Nest. Fascinated by rumors that Hitler’s rise to power may be tied to an occult artifact, Murphy hopes that by proving the existence of supernatural evil, he might in turn find his faith in divine goodness restored. But at what cost? As Axis and Allied bombs rain down, these three individuals converge on Hitler’s mansion in the mountains, each with his or her own mission. The suspense is palpable, and the characters are remarkably well-drawn for a breezy adventure novel. Benell relies a bit too much on telling instead of showing, with long summarizations outnumbering taut, real-time scenes, but he makes up for it with breakneck pacing and a provocative, high-concept mystery that breathlessly handles Nazi occultism, religious philosophy and international spycraft.
A satisfying romp for fans of period adventures.