My Review of The Black Orchestra a WW2 spy thriller by JJ Toner #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

black orchester

 

As a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team #RBRT I was given The Black Orchestra by the author in return for an honest review.

 I gave The Black Orchestra 3* out of 5*.

Book Description:

WW2 Germany. The German war machine has invaded Poland and is advancing west toward France. In Berlin Kurt Muller, an Abwehr signalman, discovers a colleague lying dead at his radio receiver. The criminal police dismiss the death as suicide, but Kurt is not convinced. Kurt follows a trail of mysteries, witnessing several atrocities that expose the Nazi regime for what it truly is. When the trail leads him to the German resistance, he faces the most difficult choices of his life. He must choose between his duty and his conscience, between his country and his family, between love and death.

My Review:

I have to say I struggled with this book and it took a long time to read, mainly because the beginning is convoluted and littered with so many characters that each time  I picked it up again, I needed to go back to see who was who, what rank they held and  and where they fitted into the Nazi regime.

However, around three quarters through, the book became easier to read and was interesting.

After reading the first part of the book, and to be fair to the author,  I knew I needed to make notes on what was working for me and what didn’t. (it’s the first time I’ve done this) So here are my thoughts:

I know little about the intricacies of the Nazi regime during WW2 so I had to take the military rankings, the way the regime worked and the historical details within the book  at face value Though some of the scenes did seem a little far fetched. 

I felt that many of the characters deserved more ‘fleshing out’ because of the part they play in the story. The protagonist, Kurt Müller, grows more rounded as the story unfolds and becomes easier to empathise with. The female characters, Gudren, Liesal and Tania are well portrayed but I felt that some of the sections they were each in could have been given more depth. The descent of  Kurt’s friend, Alex, is well written and reflects the breakdown of the society at the time. I would have liked more to be shown of the character of main antagonist, Uncle Reinhard; his function in the plot is enormous but, for me, he wasn’t layered enough.

The dialogue was more difficult to judge as, of course, it’s necessary to believe most of the characters are speaking in German. It became more realistic in the parts where the protagonist is in Ireland. I did like the passages between him and his mother; the dialogue is good and the love between them is palpable.

There is a good sense of place, both in Germany and in Ireland. The tension that is in some segments of the story is reflected in the descriptions of these backgrounds. 

The general plot-line is thought-provoking because it gives the story from the angle of Germany at that time. But quite a lot of the scenes are rushed and told rather than shown. And I felt somewhat disappointed with the denouement; it appears to be hastily written and a little unbelievable. I’m not sure if my dissatisfaction was because of the way the characters, Kurt and Gudren  were shown in this part or through the action in the story itself.

I think, overall The Black Orchestra could be viewed as a cross genre book, rather than a thriller. There is the capacity for it to be an intriguing spy novel, to fit into the historical genre and also for romantic fiction. But as it stands it seems, to me anyway, that it doesn’t quite make it in any.

Note: After I’d written my review I searched for the book on Amazon. The Black Orchestra has quite a few reviews and there are some good comments. Being fascinated by the era, I’d hoped to enjoy the story more, but maybe it just wasn’t for me. 

Links:

Amazon.co.uk: amzn.to/2HgCjSt

Amazon.com: https://amzn.to/2HCSGbn

About the Author:

jj toner

JJ Toner says:

My background is in Mathematics and computing. After 35 years developing computer systems all over Europe, I dropped out and began writing. I’ve been writing full time since 2007 and have amassed countless short stories and 5 novels, 4 of which have been published as eBooks for the kindle. The two WW2 historical novels, ‘The Black Orchestra’ and its sequel ‘The Wings of the Eagle’ are my most successful so far. ‘The Black Orchestra’ is also available as a POD. 

I live in Ireland, but a significant fraction of my extended family lives in Australia.

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ROSIE’S BOOK REVIEW TEAM #RBRT

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My review of  We Go Again by Michael Cargill

 My rating 3 out 0f 5 stars 

We Go Again

This novel is set in an era, the nineteen forties, that I love to read about. So why didn’t it quite hit the mark for me?

I have mixed feelings about this book and I’m not sure why. It’s obvious the author has done his research and the history of the Second World War is woven well throughout the plot. The story has a promising start; the characters are instantly developed in the first pages and the dialogue, on the whole, is believable. And there are some good ‘flat characters’; those who add to the backdrop, the locale, by their presence. The trouble for me was that I couldn’t decide who the protagonist was. Told from an omniscient narrator’s point of view the reader has access to all the internal thoughts of some of the characters – which is good – but the narrative switches so quickly from one to another that there isn’t time to empathise with any of them.A shame, because they all have such interesting potential.

Another problem, I think, is with the flashbacks. Although well written, there is no change in tense, no spacing; the reader is taken without warning to another time, another place. Although this does add to the back story of the characters, sometimes the flashbacks are so long it’s difficult to pick up the main story again. I found myself flicking back and forth in the narrative to remind myself where the soldiers were and what was taking place. Which was a shame because each section; the main story and the flashbacks are well written with gripping action scenes and descriptions that gave an immediate sense of place whether it is on the beaches of Dunkirk, inside a Lancaster Bomber, living in  the almost deserted village, whose inhabitants determinedly try to carry on with as normal a life as they can, the cold neglected building the soldiers take over or their contacts with the enemy

So why the doubts about We Go Again? I suppose it was that I never quite got lost in the story; I felt I was watching the action, rather that being there with the characters. I’m not sure that makes sense but I like to be absorbed by what I’m reading – to get that sense of ‘coming up for air’ from the fictional world.

 After I wrote this review I looked for the book on Amazon and Goodreads. It has one excellent five star review on Amazon, and more on Goodreads, which goes to show that people can only read a book from their own subjective point of view. So I would just recommend that you give this book a try for yourself.

I will certainly give the other books that Michael Cargill has written a go.