- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (February 2, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0670034789
- ISBN-13: 978-0670034789
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 22 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,303,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Deadly Embrace: A Novel of World War II Hardcover – February 2, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Navy veteran and former New York congressman Mrazek (Stonewall's Gold; Unholy Fire) sets his latest historical mystery in blitz-ravaged London as it unknowingly serves as a strategic staging ground for D-Day. Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower and his staff are putting the finishing touches on Operation Overlord—the long-awaited invasion of France—whose details are perhaps "the most important secret" of the war. Among those charged with keeping the secret from the Germans are Women's Army Corps Lt. Elizabeth (Liza) Marantz, a brilliant forensic pathologist and " 'stunningly beautiful girl," and her boss Maj. Sam Taggart, a former New York City homicide detective. Before you can say June 6, corpses of attractive young women with access to top secret information begin turning up. Liza and Taggart set out to discover if the murders have any connection to the invasion plan, but no one wants them to succeed: British authorities meddle with evidence, and their own bosses take them off the case. Mrazek vividly evokes the mood of a war-weary England, and Liza is a refreshing if occasionally naïve heroine. While most of the secondaries are broad stroke, and the plot and the pacing are uneven, Mrazek plans and executes a clever entertainment. (Feb.)
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About the Author
Robert J. Mrazek is a navy veteran and former congressman from the North Shore of Long Island. While in Washington, he authored a number of pieces of landmark legislation. Since his retirement from Congress, Mrazek has served on the boards of several companies and charitable organizations, including ten years as chairman of the Washington- based Alaska Wilderness League.
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Torpedo Squadron 8 was far far better. Perhaps the author should stick to non fiction, but I do plan to read his latest, because he can write pretty well
Well, yes, and after my momentary excitement, I realized I'd read a book with a similar plot just last year. That book was The Cooler, by George Markstein, and was a bestseller back in 1974. And then a moment later, I remembered reading another thriller with the same premise, as a child. That was Ken Follett's The Eye of the Needle, which was a bestseller circa 1978, and was also made into a clunky movie. A few days later, I was telling a friend about this coincidence, and he told me of yet two more bestsellers based on this premise: Night of the Fox by Jack Higgins (1986) and The Unlikely Spy by Daniel Silva (1996)! So, it would appear that this framework is good for one or two bestsellers a decade, and here is Mrazek with his entry.
Originality of premise aside, this is a mostly engaging and well-written period thriller. The heroine is Liza Marantz, a young Jewish forensic pathologist who enlisted in the U.S. Army and has arrived in England as the book starts. She is put to work for Major Taggart, an ex-New York City homicide detective now working for SHAEF's (ie. the Allied high command) head of security. His job is to make sure that none of the 400+ people with direct information about the time and location of the D-Day landings inadvertently or maliciously leaks that information. Liza starts off working for him as a mail censor, tediously reading through all outgoing correspondence, and in these early chapters, we are introduced to the wartime London of the Baby Blitz, food shortages, housing shortages, and the American occupation. The plot picks up when both women Liza shares an office with turn up dead within days of each other. This leads to Maj. Taggart and Liza teaming up to try and solve the murders and more importantly, determine if D-Day security has been compromised via pillow talk. This leads them into a corrupt world of arrogant high-ranking officers with unpleasant sexual appetites. At the same time, Liza is introduced to England's upper crust, one dashing member of which tugs at her heartstrings.
While the atmosphere is pretty good, the writing smooth, and the pacing nice, there are a few quibbles to be had with the book. One being the totally unnecessary coincidence of Liza's three officemates (a WAC, a Wren, and a codebreaker) all being central to the plot. They all worked on different projects, and there is absolutely no plot advantage to having them all work in the same place. Liza could have learned the clues she needed about them plenty of other ways. Another minor flaw is the obviousness of the clue to both the traitor's identity -- thriller writers everywhere take note, any time you make a big deal of someone's hair color, the reader's going to it's important! A final quibble is that the dialogue sometimes seems a bit off. For example, it seems highly unlikely that an Oxbridge-educated gentleman, no matter how unpleasant, would plop down at a table in a club where some acquaintances are dining with a young woman he doesn't know, and start talking about another woman's "a**"! Similarly, a number of gentlemen bandy the word "bloody" about in Liza's presence without any trace of self-conciousness. I will grant that the war brought about great social changes and informality, but these kinds of phrases stuck out. These quibbles aside, the book is a fun read, and Liza is a heroine who will appeal to anyone who likes their women smart and sure of themselves.
"The Deadly Embrace" features two protagonists, one female and one male. Lt. Liza Marantz, a Jewish New York based forensic pathologist is recruited for the wartime effort by Major Sam Taggart. Taggart, a former NYC homicide detective is working for General Manigault, head of security for SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditonary Force). Allied bigwigs are sequestered in and around SHAEF headquarters planning for the invasion of Europe. Taggart is also guarding the secrets of ULTRA, the code breaking faction of British intelligence.
Liza is given an office that she shares with an aristocratic English naval Wren named Joss, an buxom American WAC, J.P. and an English code breaker Capt. Charlie Wainwright. Both gals are mistresses of high ranking but misogynistic British and American officers and capable of learning clandestine miltary information during pillow talk, a major security breach.
In short order, both of Liza's office mates Joss and J.P. turn up dead causing Taggart and Scotland Yard to mount an investigation in fear the the secrets of Operation Overlord are being compromised.
Both Taggart and Liza soon discover that a treasonous plot exists among the very highest levels of English aristocracy, sympathetic to Germany, to divulge wartime secrets to the Nazis.
Mrazek could have been more thorough in his plot, merely scratching the surface and not going into enough depth. For example, he repeatedly makes the point of Liza Marantz being Jewish but never relates that to the rampant anti-Semitism pervading Europe at that time. He also never gives a convincing enough argument as to why a blue blooded English aristocrat would turn into a traitor.