Select one of the keywords
White Flag Down    by Joel N. Ross order for
White Flag Down
by Joel N. Ross
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Think Switzerland, and a small well-regulated, mountainous country comes to mind, that and its efficient banking industry of course. After reading White Flag Down and learning more of the country's less than neutral role in World War II, that image has changed for me. Joel N. Ross's new thriller surpasses his previous brilliant Double Cross Blind.

It all begins as a tough U.S. Army Air Force pilot, Lieutenant Grant, crash-lands his photo reconnaissance plane in Swiss territory and is interned by the authorities. Before the plane landed, he and his navigator Racket glimpsed a new prototype jet fighter. Racket managed to take a photograph and Grant is now determined to escape, recover the camera from the place where he hid it, and get it back to the Allies.

In Stalingrad, we meet a second protagonist, one-armed Major Eduard Akimov, who was enlisted from his sentence in the gulag - where he was imprisoned for speaking out against 'the birth pangs of the future' - after the Russian army ran short of officers to fight back against Hitler's devastating (three million dead) invasion. Akimov is pulled out of the final defense of the city and flown to Switzerland, where his missing ex-wife Magdalena apparently has documentation that could be critical to truce negotiations between Russian diplomats (headed by Akimov's long estranged father) and the Germans.

The third key character lives in Switzerland. Anna Fay is an obsessive journalist, who works with an underground organization. She researches and writes articles that reveal Nazi/Swiss collaboration. A widow with a son, Christoph, she was married to Martin Fay. Martin worked with the Red Cross and Grant watched him die in Nanking, the place where 'something shattered inside him' and he lost his edge. Akimov's ex-wife contacted Anna and she's trying to arrange a meeting to get documentation of German-Swiss economic negotiations.

The trio, with objectives that sometimes merge and at others are at odds, come together and apart, each seeking in their own way to fight tyranny. There are brutal encounters with the villains, murder, greed, regular surprises, and a wartime romance along the way. I especially enjoyed the Russian poetry (by Anna Akhmatova) quoted regularly by Akimov, who reminded me of Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko. White Flag Down is an outstanding wartime thriller, that casts light on aspects of history long hidden in the shadows. Don't miss it.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews