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An Affair of Spies    by Ronald H. Balson order for
Affair of Spies
by Ronald H. Balson
Order:  USA  Can
Griffin, 2023 (2022)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Ronald H. Balson, author of historical novels examining the consequences that ripple down through the years from the horrors of the Holocaust - Eli's Promise, Once We Were Brothers, Karolina's Twins, and Defending Britta Stein - now brings us An Affair of Spies.

The Prologue reveals a 1939 letter from Einstein to Roosevelt warning him of the danger of the nuclear bomb. The arms race begins. In 1943, Sergeant Nathan Silverman, who grew up in Berlin in the 1920s and came to America in 1938, is reassigned, trained as a spy, and ends up in the Manhattan Project, led by General Leslie Groves and Dr. Robert Oppenheiner.

Turns out Dr. Snyder, a German theoretical physicist involved in the Nazi work on the bomb, wants to defect. Nathan's father was a colleague at the same Institute as Snyder. Groves wants Nathan to return to Berlin, learn from Snyder the state of Germany's nuclear program and help him get to America. He might also be able to get his family out, if still alive.

Since Nathan doesn't have the needed expertise himself, he'll have as companion Dr. Allison Fisher, a brilliant University of Chicago scientist. The plan is for her to pose as a legendary associate of Snyder's, whom he had asked to help with his research. Allison is terrified, but agrees. As they grow closer, Nathan becomes even more resolved to keep her safe.

Of course there are complications, one being the girlfriend (Lena) who had dropped Nathan because he is a Jew, and another a Luftwaffe major (Weber) they meet in Paris and who shows up again in Berlin. There are regular close encounters, especially after Nathan tries to discover his family's fate. Bombs rain down on Berlin.

An Affair of Spies is a thrilling read, with an education on nuclear physics along the way - don't miss it and be sure to read the Notes at the end.

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