Book Review: The Thyssen Affair by Mozelle Richardson

Hi all…

In the mid-80s, I started reading quite a bit of spy novels set during the Cold War. The detente between Russia and the United States echoed in much of the literature of the time, from the stories of Ian Fleming‘s James Bond to the novels of Robert Ludlum, Ira Levin, Frederick Forsyth, and Ken Follett. Depending on where you turned, the Nazi legacy lived on around the world.

So when I saw the description of The Thyssen Affair by Mozelle Richardson, I was excited. Here was a story that brought together remnants of the WWII OSS, its successor agency the CIA, the Israeli Mossad, the Russian KGB, and echoes of Nazi Germany. Plus, it stars Canyon Elliot, a Colorado rancher and retired intelligence officer as the main character. How could I pass it up?

The story begins with Elliot being brought in on a CIA operation by a friend of his – Peter Landis. Peter, currently working at the CIA, was a good friend of his son before he was killed in Vietnam. Peter’s request is simple – take a skull to Munich, Germany, and figure out why the KGB went to the trouble to dig it up from a graveyard on the site of an old POW camp in Fort Reno, Oklahoma. Simple enough, right?

Unfortunately, as with most things, his trip is anything by simple. By the time he gets to New York to head across the Atlantic, he has to lose someone tailing him. But by the time he gets to Munich, he realizes there has to be more to the skull of this German officer, Major Von Stober…

The Thyssen Affair starts quickly and doesn’t let up to the end. And if you like your spy fiction with explosions, gunfire, and knife fights you shouldn’t be disappointed. It’s a chess game between Elliot and the people trying to keep him from the truth but when the lovely KGB agent Anya comes into the picture, she does more than ruffle his feathers as the two leapfrog around Europe.

Richardson’s style reminded me quite a bit of the Ludlum novels I read as a teenager. It’s a quick read with intricate twists and turns, but like with Ludlum, the conspiracies and intrigue are nothing without great characters. Ultimately it’s those characters and the way their backgrounds bubble up to explain their motivations that really made this story work. Sure there’s a great deal of spy vs. spy action as well, but the character details are the glue that holds everything together.

The other aspect of her style I absolutely loved is that this is set in 1980. There are no computers, no cellular phones, no James Bond Q-Branch gadgetry… Elliot and the rest of the gang have to rely on tried and true spy methods. Codebook stuffed in a hollowed out heel of a shoe? Check. Microdot copy of a map to Nazi treasure? Check. Standard hand to hand, knives, and guns? Check. And in most cases, Elliot is forced to use is brains to think his way out of problems more often than not.

As I read along, I couldn’t help but think the book would make a great movie in the style of the James Bond films of the 1960s and 1970s. I’m not sure who they’d get to play Elliot, but perhaps someone like Tommy Lee Jones could pull it off.

The Thyssen Affair was a fast, enjoyable read. If you’re looking for a good spy novel from the Cold War, be sure to check it out!

This review first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up this book and other Cold War spy novels from Barnes & Noble below!

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Book Review: The Healers by Thomas Heric

Hey there…

What will health care look like in a year? Five years? Ten years? There’s no debate that advances in science and technology will provide answers to many of mankind’s current medical mysteries. But how will men and women with sometimes questionable ethics and morals use those new tools? Will the monetary rewards for those future doctors outweigh the good reasons for helping their family, friends, and complete strangers through the challenges of addressing the seemingly endless medical issues they will face?

Thomas Heric presents a unique vision of the future that tries to answer these questions in the form of a novel that bridges multiple genres of fiction. There are science fiction, adventure, and thriller threads mixed with one of the darkest hours in our history in the form of the Nazi agenda for a perfect race. At times I was reminded of Michael Crichton‘s Jurassic Park, a bit of Ira Levin’s Boys from Brazil, and Robert Ludlum’s novels involving Nazi plots into the cold war such as The Holcroft Covenant.

The story of The Healers begins in 2021 with Wesley Anderson’s graduation from medical school. Wesley is a remarkable young man with a brilliant future in medicine and medical research. At his graduation party, he is approached by the Aesculapian Healers – a group of technologically and scientifically advanced doctors offering to cure all your ills but at an unbelievably high price. Torn between joining his father’s medical practice and learning about the cutting edge of medicine, Wesley chooses to join them when he learns of his father’s own health issues.

We tag along with Wesley as he learns more about the Aesculapian’s plans for the future and their dark past. If a group of doctors has the power to heal those with incurable diseases, why couldn’t they simply share that knowledge with the world? Wesley must wrestle with his conscience as he finds himself drawn into a web of secrets and lies. Can he save his family? His friends? The world?

Author Thomas Heric has been a practicing physician for more than 40 years and it’s obvious from the first few pages of the novel that he has a gift for not only using medical jargon correctly but translating it in such a way that the reader knows enough to not get bogged down by it. He’s written for such television series as Medical Story, The Nurses, Chicago Hope, and Picket Fences. At times I felt the jargon took over the pages of this novel, but for the most part it was handled well.

What threw me a bit was the feeling that the story was somewhat, but not completely, predictable. As a journey of self-discovery, Wesley is faced by numerous challenges along the way, testing him physically, mentally, and emotionally as any good hero should be tested. As the tale progressed, I could almost hear Joseph Campbell narrating some of the storytelling methods used in early myths in Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Heric uses many common constructs of the hero’s journey such as the hero gathering like-minded individuals around him to help him in his journey, facing his challenges in much the same way as Hercules from Greek myth, and so on.

And I felt that in places, Heric may have been sharing his own view of what might happen as the Obama Administration continues to work on health care reform in what many are calling a “socialist agenda.” Though I think the term “socialist” doesn’t apply in this case, I have my own concerns about how the medical community will be forced to change to meet government standards of care. It was interesting to read Heric’s interpretation of what might come of these changes in the future.

That said, once I got into the rhythm of the tale, I enjoyed Wesley’s journey as did his best to help his family and friends both old and new to survive such a turbulent time. The science fiction and Nazi elements kept me entertained and I will be curious to see where he takes the series in the future. The Healers is the first book of his series The Aesculapians and left me wanting to learn more about how things will resolve themselves after this story’s climactic ending.

If you like your science fiction to be more “near future” than “far future,” The Healers by Thomas Heric might be right up your alley. The action is fast and provides a great ride. Definitely one of the most interesting medical “what ifs” I’ve read since Michael Crichton passed away in 2008.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

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Book Review: The Atlantis Revelation by Thomas Greanias

Unfamiliar with Thomas Greanias‘ work, I decided to dive into his latest book – The Atlantis Revelation. The combination of Atlantis and Nazi schemes was enough to tickle my fancy, exploring the fantastic world of archaeologist Conrad Yeats. The book turned out to be a bit like National Treasure with a bit of The Da Vinci Code and James Bond thrown in for good measure.

The book opens with Yeats diving in the wreckage of the legendary Nazi submarine, Nausicaa, deep in the Mediterranean ocean. Nausicaa was once captained by SS General Ludwig von Berg, also known as the Baron of the Black Order, the leader of Hitler’s Ahnenerbe – a group dedicated to proving that the Aryans were the descendants of Atlantis. The Baron had found some kind of Atlantean artifact and it had gone down when the submarine was sunk by the British Royal Navy in 1943.

Yeats soon discovered that it was the Flammenschwert or “Sword of Fire” – some kind of torpedo or bomb based on Atlantean technology? He had little time to find out however, as he was attacked in what I can only describe as a Thunderball-like (thank you Ian Fleming) underwater scuba battle by men also after the Baron’s treasure. As his attackers left him stuck in the Nausicaa, he had to wonder what he’d gotten himself into this time.

This was only the beginning of an adventure that spans the globe as Yeats puts the pieces together pitting him against Sir Roman Midas, Russian orphan turned British mining tycoon and mastermind behind what could become a global oil crisis. Along the way, Yeats works again with Sister Serena Serghetti from the Vatican, whom he had a previous relationship with. And it ends in a chase under the Temple Mount to stop a group intent on starting a world war.

Yeats seems to have a knack for surviving impossible situations and coming out on top or knowing who to contact when he gets into a bind, which got a bit tiring after a while. The jet-setting lifestyle and multiple talents of our erstwhile archaeologist made James Bond seem like an amateur while channeling a bit of Indiana Jones. But other than that it was fun to see how all the threads wove together.

The Atlantis Revelation was a very quick read and kept me entertained all the way through to the end. I’m always intrigued when writers work Nazis into the equation, as with The Boys from Brazil from Ira Levin and the Indiana Jones franchise. And add in the Atlantis side of things and I have to say it’s a great combination.

If you like quick, fun thrillers, The Atlantis Revelation by Thomas Greanias should be on your reading list. Check it out at your favorite library or bookstore!

–Fitz

p.s. Look for these books at Amazon!

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