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Saboteur    by Andrew Gross order for
by Andrew Gross
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2018 (2017)
Hardcover, Paperback, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Andrew Gross's Saboteur is an engrossing military thriller, based on a true story about key missions in 1943 Norway, relating to the arms race for the atomic bomb - who knew? Creation of an atomic bomb required heavy water, which in turn needed 'enormous amounts of electrical power' unavailable in Germany. But heavy water was produced (for ammonia fertilizer) at a hydro plant in Vemork, Norway.

The lead in this novel is Oslo engineer Kurt Nordstrum, who joined the Resistance soon after the Nazi invasion of his country. He believed his fiancée to be safe, but she was one of forty townsfolk shot in retaliation for the death of a Nazi officer, leaving him with nothing to lose. The story opens as he and his friend Jens toss a Quisling overboard from a ferry. This brings them to the attention of the villain of the piece, another Quisling, Dieter Lund, who has hated Kurt since their childhood.

When they undertake a mission to deliver microfilm smuggled from Vemork to England, they didn't expect to have to hijack a cargo ship to get there - but what else should the descendants of Vikings do? In England, they train as part of the Special Operations Unit of the Free Norwegian Army. Then they are sent back to their own country to attack the hydro plant (the mountainous terrain makes a bombing raid unlikely to succeed). Of course, things never go exactly as planned, complicated by 'the worst storm any had ever seen', but they get the job done.

Kurt remains in the area afterwards, to build up a network of agents and radio operators, with his nemesis Lund close on his trail. There are close shaves a-plenty but he's only in real danger after he falls hard for lovely Austrian Natalie Ritter. She's in the country, accompanying her grandfather on a concert tour for the Nazis. This leads him to make a hard choice in favor of 'the one duty his heart would not let him abandon.' Will he survive it?

Andrew Gross always delivers an entertaining read, and has done it once more in Saboteur. Don't miss his Author's Note at the back of the book, which describes the true events and 'the heroic men who participated in them'.

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