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Vienna Spies Paperback – March 30, 2017
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The story is long, really long, and follows the activities of a German-speaking faux-married couple sent by British Intelligence to find out information about the Russians and its super-spy-guy.
It’s brutal and heart-wrenching in places, a bit over-the-top in torture description but spot-on as reflecting life in Vienna at the end of the war and the German occupation of Austria. The main British agent is not really fit for the job but his faux-wife is. They have many problems as a couple at first and in pulling off successfully their assignments. The Russian super-spy has his mettle tested as well. The end of the story is quite confusing as to the Russian’s true affiliation and allegiance. Was he a double agent? It’s never clear.
As war stories goes, it’s a good read. As spy stories go it’s okay. There’s a lot less spying going on than a reader has a right to expect and a bit too much angst and personal horror for my tastes. And most of the Germans, as is often the case in WWII stories, are drawn from weary stereotypes and awful stick figures.
The main characters are well drawn and unique, clear and distinct. The writing is, for the most part reasonably okay, resorting often to British English and grammar usage. The history lesson is first class. One rarely reads stories about Vienna during WWII. This one is a rather good exception.
Overall I give it a 3.49, rounded down to a 3 on Amazon’s rating scale. If you like long, detailed WWII war story narratives, this one is for you. If not, then not.
Meanwhile the Nazis are rounding up Communists and anyone else who seems Jewish or suspicious-with enthusiastic help from the residents of Vienna and indeed Austria generally.
So, a good story, well told, and plenty of last minute rescues - or not- you will want to read it all .I started looking at what else by this writer was available as soon as I finished. Nuff said....
The book is related to some of the author’s other historical novels—Major Edgar, the spy controller, is in them, for example. I believe the main characters, Rolf Eder and Katharina Hoch, are new. Eder is a Vienna native who becomes a somewhat reluctant spy for the British, a dangerous game in wartime Vienna, considering the Austrians have bought into Hitler’s far-right nationalistic nightmare. His partner Katharina becomes his lover after he gets over the loss of fiancée who was tortured by the Viennese Gestapo. The overriding problem: Keep a Soviet spy Viktor from turning Austria Communist at the end of the war. The means? Get an old Austrian statesman not to side with the Soviets by hustling him out of Vienna to the American-British lines.
This novel isn’t for the squeamish, although the descriptions don’t begin to compare with the horrors the Nazis performed. At the same time, readers will meet human beings who laugh and love their way to survive the worst war the world has seen.
Readers might even end up identifying with the Soviet spy. All the spies here are conflicted. Not one Nazi has redeeming qualities. Classic battle between some good and some evil.