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The Black Orchestra (WW2 spy thriller) [Kindle Edition]

JJ Toner , Lucille Redmond
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)

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Book Description

WW2 Germany. The German war machine has invaded Poland and is advancing west toward France. In Berlin Kurt Muller, an Abwehr signalman, discovers a colleague lying dead at his radio receiver. The criminal police dismiss the death as suicide, but Kurt is not convinced. Kurt follows a trail of mysteries, witnessing several atrocities that expose the Nazi regime for what it truly is. When the trail leads him to the German resistance, he faces the most difficult choices of his life. He must choose between his duty and his conscience, between his country and his family, between love and death.

“Very well written, well-paced, intriguing, sinister, disturbing and gripping, 'The Black Orchestra' is an excellent historical novel, tackling an extremely emotive and horrific part of European history. If you liked Ken Follet's 'Winter of the World', you will love 'The Black Orchestra'. It has it all: a totalitarian society, murder, conspiracy, constant danger, a mysterious and slightly sinister love interest and a likeable, honourable and slightly naive main character with depth.”

“Only Fatherland by Robert Harris comes close in my opinion.”

“Very much in the ilk of Ken Follett.”

“One of the very best books I have ever read, couldn’t put it down read it in a couple of days.”

“A fast paced book and a must read if you have an interest in WW2 history.”

“Every hour I spent reading this book was enjoyable. I recommend this book if you like a tale of suspense set in a turbulent time in history.”

“Extremely well researched - and with strong, well-drawn characters - The Black Orchestra contains plenty of twists and turns to keep you on your toes throughout.”

“When I started to read it found it difficult to put down. A good read especially if you like WW2 history”

Editorial Reviews


The Black Orchestra, by JJ Toner, is a mesmerizing spy thriller set in Nazi Germany during World War II.

Kurt Muller, an Abwehr signalman, shows up to work and finds that his coworker is dead at his radio receiver. The police barely investigate the death and quickly determine it was a suicide. Kurt doesn’t agree. He begins his own investigation, but not many want him to. Kurt’s inquiry leads him to a German resistance group. Kurt has to choose between his conscience and duty.

Historical fiction thrillers have a lot of moving parts that need to be grounded with historical facts in order to be believable. JJ Toner didn’t back down from the challenge. The Black Orchestra is a taut thriller that proves simple storytelling is effective storytelling. He relies on the setting and history to create an eerie atmosphere that puts the reader on edge right from the start. Just writing the word Gestapo will put fear into many hearts and it is easy for the reader to visualize what’s going on.

The tension builds slowly. At times it seems that the author has gotten off track, but then he surprises the reader with stringing everything back together. This change of pace can put off readers that prefer all action. But readers who enjoy the subtleties of intelligent thrillers will appreciate his efforts and will enjoy the exploration into the unknown.

The author has a firm grasp on German history. At times he mentions events that are integral to understanding the time period, such as Kristallnacht and The Night of the Long Knives. However, he assumes that the reader has done their research as well. The incidents may be familiar to some, but probably not all. Developing the back story, not just the historical turning points mentioned, but the characters’ pasts would have enhanced the suspense in the novel. Nazi Germany was a terrifying place. It was hard to know who to trust. The author uses this, but developing the back story more would have helped immensely. The author’s description of Berlin helps the city come alive. It plays a large role not only in the novel, but during the time period. The reader gets an inside look of what it was like for average citizens living in Berlin during World War II under Hitler’s thumb. These glimpses are truly terrifying and a wonderful addition to a story that is already brimming with suspense.

The one aspect that doesn’t seem to flow as well as the rest of the story is Kurt’s relationship with Gudrun and then his brief relationship with Liesel. Both of these women play a vital role in the end of the novel and some may wonder if the author figured out he needed more motivation for the main character in the final pages and padded the book with Gudrun and Liesel. Or were they added since it seems almost every spy novel needs a love interest? It’s a shame their characters weren’t developed more since they had so much potential. Luckily their roles don’t detract the reader too much from the central plot. This novel will appeal to readers who enjoy intelligent historical fiction thrillers.

-Self-Publishing Reviews

Product Details

  • File Size: 499 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1908519177
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: JJ Toner; 2 edition (December 15, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B1JE3B6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,264 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, Sinister & Gripping March 18, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Berlin, 1940, and Kurt Muller finds the body of one of his co-workers, Kleister, slumped at his work station in the Communications Unit of the Abwehr. He supposedly committed suicide, but Muller is not convinced and the police (ORPO) do not seem interested in carrying out a thorough investigation. He takes it on himself to consult the head of his section about his concerns, but not only are his ideas dismissed, but also reported to Muller's uncle - Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the RSHA (Reich Security Headquarters, incorporating the ORPO, KRIPO, Gestapo, SD & SS). Muller's life is further complicated when he meets Gudrun von Sommerfeld, who seems to know quite a bit about him and makes a big impression on the young Berliner.

After having been arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo, and released thanks to his powerful uncle, Muller is then promoted to work with the Enigma and TypeX coding systems in the Translations Unit on his uncle's recommendation. He is not there long before he is given a further promotion to run Germany's agents in Ireland - his mother's home country. But Muller can't leave it alone. He becomes more and more convinced that Kleister was murdered - most likely by his old boss, Drobol, because of an uncoded signal that passed through his hands from Leipzig - where there has been another murder disguised as suicide.

Full of intrigue and conspiracy, 'The Black Orchestra' builds a sinister picture of life for the average Berliner in the 1940s, and shows an officious hierarchy that stretches into every walk of life. To survive, people need to keep their heads down, be very careful what they say and who they say it to, and do not do anything to be noticed.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars gripping story, but March 27, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This starts with Kurt Müller, a Leutnant in the Abwehr noticing that Kleister, an Abwehr agent, dead at his desk due, seemingly, to a bullet in the back of the head. The KRIPO declare this a suicide, but Kurt does not see how anyone could kill himself that way so he begins to ask questions. After some time, he is taken by the Gestapo, beaten up, questioned, but let go. Apparently Kurt is a nephew of Reinhard Heydrich. I will not go any further because to do so would spoil the story, which is particularly plot-driven, except to note there is a group of people comprising "The Black Orchestra", and these have come to the attention of the Gestapo. The writing is taut, and while I do not really know, the descriptions of Germany in the first two years of WW II seem to be believable. There are prolonged action sequences that are well-written (with one reservation) that maintain good tension, while the characters of Kurt and his friends are well-drawn. With these considerations alone, this is clearly a five-star book.

However, the book is a historical novel, and historical details should be followed reasonably. You are at war, an agent is dead in the major intelligence-gathering organization, so who should show some interest? Don't you think "spy" or "enemy agent" might cross someone's mind? If so, the SD would become involved immediately. A Gestapo agent beats up a nephew of Heydrich regarding a matter the SD should be the investigating agent. Really? At that time, beat up a relation of Heydrich, and you had better have a good reason. Then, when Heydrich finds out what has happened, nothing happens? Really?
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By Ellis
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Kurt Müller, a Morse code signalman in the headquarters of the Abwehr (military intelligence) during World War Two, is an average sort of guy caught in very unordinary and dangerous situations.

Kurt is torn between his duty to fight for his country, and his conscience, which is calling on him to fight against what he sees happening around him. "The evil that was the Third Reich must fail, and I yearned to play my part in its downfall," he says.

This is not a war novel, nor is it a spy story. It is a story of a German officer serving an evil empire at a time when there are spies everywhere. Kurt comes across as a very believable character, as do the members of the wide supporting cast.

I enjoyed reading The Black Orchestra. The novel offers intimate and occasionally frightening insights into the lives of Germans coping with a very turbulent time in their history.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go get this book! January 17, 2013
By Marti
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book begins in 1940 Berlin and the Gestapo are everywhere. Many ordinary citizens worry about someone watching every move they make. Is your spouse/lover, co-worker, best friend, superior at work, or neighbor reporting that you are not a supporter of the Third Reich? Is that man following you, or does he happen to take the same route to work as you?

"The Black Orchestra" is about a 20+ year old man, Kurt Muller, discovering love, the evils of the Third Reich, himself, and his capabilities. This is not a spy novel, although there are many spies lurking around; I put in the genre of coming of age and suspense.

Every hour I spent reading this book was enjoyable. I recommend this book if you like a tale of suspense set in a turbulent time in history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting an Educational
It was a wonderfully educational book although fiction. It held my interest so well that I had a hard time putting it down
Published 24 days ago by D E C
5.0 out of 5 stars I liked it from its inception
This is a well told story. I liked it from its inception: a first person view of Nazi Germany from Kurt Mueller, a signalman in military intelligence. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Glen Barrera
3.0 out of 5 stars good enough
Slow, not great. If you like the genre and have run out of authors give it a try. Not a standalone winner
Published 1 month ago by private
1.0 out of 5 stars mistake ridden spy novel
Lots of evidence of writing too fast, but I ended up reading the whole thing after all. Errors on dates, on all sorts of details.
Published 1 month ago by Hans Bergmann
3.0 out of 5 stars Good pace. Lots of suspense nd tension.
This author has done his homework and knows his history and locations very well. Good story and I may explore this character further in Toner's next novel.
Published 1 month ago by Kindle Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Only moderatey interesting.
Published 1 month ago by William Harper
5.0 out of 5 stars I particularly enjoyed the locale of the story
JJ Toner has crafted a quick-paced, action-filled spy thriller. I usually read several books at the same time (I get to a place where I want to read something else). Read more
Published 1 month ago by doug mckittrick
4.0 out of 5 stars A different viewpoint
I chose this book to read about German people who did not sympathize with Hitler's views and how theirs lives were effected during WW2 The main character,Kurt ,changed from... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Diane
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story especially since it is seen through the eyes ...
Interesting story especially since it is seen through the eyes of a German during World War II. A few plot twists and turns.
Published 2 months ago by Ilene
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book well writen, one ofd the better ones thanks-pete
Published 2 months ago by pete 615
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More About the Author

My background is in Mathematics and computing, but I have been writing full time since 2005. I write short stories and novels. My novels include the bestselling WW2 spy story 'The Black Orchestra', and its sequel, 'The Wings of the Eagle'.

Many of my short stories have been published in mainstream magazines. Check out 'Ovolution and Other Stories' - a collection of fun SF stories. Most recently, I have wandered into some very dodgy company who have inveigled me into writing noir stories. Five of these have been published in various noir magazines. I was born in a cabbage patch in Ireland, and I still live in the Emerald Isle. A large stone outside my window allows me to predict the weather. If the stone is dry I know there's rain coming...

My web site:

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