An avid reader, Stephen's knowledge of Crime Fiction is fairly extensive, with The Golden Age is his greatest interest.
This WWII adventure grabs you immediately, throwing you straight into the half-dark, half-suffocating claustrophobia of a stricken U-Boat in the Atlantic Ocean in a storm. From the terrors and tension of the U-Boat we jump to the relaxed warmth of the southern states of America to Los Alamos, New Mexico and the nuclear weapons establishment known as the Hill.
It is 1944 the tide is turning for the allies, the Riech is beginning to crumble and powerful figures are turning some of their thoughts to what comes next when the war is over. The plot revolves around two lives on different continents, Hector Gomez an ex-FBI, Army Intelligence officer based at the American facility working on nuclear weapons and Stefan Portisch a U-Boat captain sailing toward a secret location.
Portisch and his crew have SS officers aboard for a special mission, but before that mission can begin the U-Boat already damaged by depth charges is eventually wrecked in the storm off Galicia, Northern Spain. Portisch alone survives the wreck, but only after having shot one of the SS officers.
Gomez finds himself at odds with his boss when he is suspicious of an apparent suicide of one of the scientists working at the base. Sol Fiedler, a German Jew seemed a steady and solid type of man not someone likely to kill himself. His suicide note to his wife was typewritten, he had no typewriter and his name for his wife was one she didn't recognize. All very odd, but then when Sol's name is suddenly sullied by unsubstantiated sexual assault claims Gomez is more convinced this was no suicide.
So, while he is trying to delve into Sol's life Gomez uses his ex-FBI contacts to run checks on the German's friends. One, Frank Donovan seems to be a strange choice for a friend. Could Sol have been passing secrets to the enemy?
Meanwhile, Portisch is laid up in a small Galician village. Unable to stand, he is taken in by Enrico and looked after by his sister Eva. It soon becomes clear to Portisch that he doesn't want to go back to the war; a war Germany is losing, so with German consular searches being mounted for any survivors he needs to hide and Eva helps him. He is a deserter now, so if he is caught it could mean a firing squad.
This tale moves between the two storylines deftly, the descriptive text is detailed and vivid. Mr Hurley creates the atmosphere of terror and fear with a convincing style. The two main characters seem to inhabit completely different worlds with no likelihood that their worlds could ever collide. But, when fate lends a hand anything is possible and here Hurley plays that hand with a flourish.
This is a hugely enjoyable plot so very intelligently created. It has excitement, physical violence, and gun totting thugs - but it also has pathos, love and intrigue. The pace is a satisfying one and you are never with one character for so long that you lose sight of the other. Whether you're a hardboiled crime thriller fan or the devotee of the intelligence spy novel this will be one you can't put down.