Amongst My Enemies – Reviews 12/23/12
5-Stars! “Wow! Read this book. It is exceptionally well done and exciting. The characters are believable and they get into crisis in spite of themselves. I enjoyed this.
Amazon Reviewer Just John, 12/3/12
5-Stars! “It pulled me right into the story! I felt like a member of my own family was part of the story. Gripping and tense all the way to the end.I’d recommend it to anyone who likes mysteries, or historical fiction. Very believable .
Diane Indseth, ‘The Book Hoarder’ 11/26/12
4-Stars! “It’s a good read in this genre. Personally, I found this book to be a decent read. While it isn’t a top-notch thriller it kept me drawn in enough to finish the book. I cannot say that about some of the other books I’ve chosen. I found the writing to be adequate and the plot is plausible, for the most part. It may not be 100% historically correct, but I’m not a good judge of that anyway. I borrowed it free via my Prime account, so my review has no bones to pick about it. Go for it!
J. Michael Bozeman, Goodreads Reviewer 11/7/12
4-Stars! “Great Read! Story of Germany, Hitler, U-Boats loaded with Gold and sunk in the Baltic sea. Story of intrigue and one man’s quest for survival and redemption. Once you start reading, you can’t put it down.
Lynn, Amazon Reviewer, 11/4/12
4-Stars! “Not A Bad Read. Every now and again one of the freebies for Kindle turns out to be a book I really enjoy. This is one of those books. This novel reminds me a little of the work of Robert Ludlum, Alistair MacLean, and Jack Higgins. Cold War intrigue, a little suspense and a token of revenge. All in all, a pretty good novel by William Brown. While the Prologue, recounting the two wars Israel fought in its first eight years of existence, leaves no surprise as to what happens to the treasure, the path to that point is what makes up the story.
J. D. Andersen, Amazon Reviewer, 10-21-12
5-Stars! “Involved and involving! This one had more twists and turns than many I have read recently. I always like a novel that adds historic information indirectly, as this one did about a part of WW II that I had not previously known. Interesting characters and unusual settings added to the enjoyment.”
Reader 70, Amazon Reviewer, 10/13/12
5-Stars! “Great read, right from the beginning. What Michael, our hero, and main character in the book goes through in his young life should happen to no one! This is a combination spy, submarine, and lots, and lots of action type novel. It’s a “can’t down Book!”
Jim, Amazon Reviewer, 10/6/12 done
5-Stars! “A book you cannot put down! I have to admit that I purchased this book primarily based on price. Frankly, I did not expect much but the book summary seemed interesting. I like reading WW II stories and always like U-boat adventures.
As I began reading Amongst My Enemies, it quickly became apparent that I had downloaded a “winner” and soon could not resist picking up my iPad every chance I could find.
I will let others summarize the book’s characters but for me, it is a great thriller type book that certainly has one very evil former German SS Officer that takes to killing like fish to water.
My only negative comment would be that the author could have described in more realistic detail the process of SCUBA diving, U-boat terminology, nautical terms aboard the fishing boat and most of all, more military background on the key character to make him believable as he completes tasks more akin to Navy Seals or Army Delta forces.
However, the book still rates 5 stars for the interest it generated for me and the enjoyment over several days.
Donald Wiant, Amazon Reviewer, 9/29/12
3-Stars! “Pretty Good! Not a bad read. Enjoyed the story line and love this period of history. Kind of a quick paced story with a few assumptions.
Douglas E. Dwyer, Amazon Reviewer, 9/27/12
5-Stars! “Very Interesting! I found this book very interesting and exciting. Especially historical – Second War – background connected with fast action is great. I recommend this story for thriller lovers.
Cichy, Amazon Reviewer 9/10/12
4-Stars! “All Out Action. Fast paced action adventure tale that weaves the intrigue of the cold war with the brutality of the Second World War. A Russian espionage ring, an American veteran and a brutal Nazi killer and a Swedish fisherman all hunt for the same thing. Oh, and don’t forget the Mossad. What a recipe for success that proves to be. For fans of this genre of story I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.”
Colin the Celt, Amazon Reviewer, 8/29/12 done
5-Stars! “Having read “The Undertaker” by this same author I knew what to expect as far as his writing style. I therefore prepared myself for a fast-paced plot-driven read and turned to the first page. By the time I looked up from this book it was midnight and I was three quarters of the way through it and was excited to read the rest. The characters reach out from the pages and drag you into their world. I must warn that you may want to set aside the time to read this one as you will not want to stop and will lose track of all time. I felt as if I was reading a book written by one of Mr. Patterson’s ghost writers. After the first few pages you will find yourself wrapped up so thickly by the plot you will find it hard to let go.”
Al Robins for “Free Book Reviews” 8/22/12 done
5-Stars! “What a book! I should have known better than to begin a William Brown book during a busy week! I had just finished reading ‘The Undertaker’ and I ordered ‘Amongst My Enemies on my Kindle.’ I have had a very difficult time putting the book away to cook, clean, do laundry, exercise, sleep — anything! The characters are true to ‘themselves.’ Lots of twists and turns. I am waiting for a movie based on this book. It would keep you at the edge of your seat, certainly. Another excellent book by William Brown!
GinnyReader, Top Amazon Reviewer, 8/14/12 done
5-Stars! Martha Cheves, A Book and a Dish, 7/5/12
“A Wonderfully written after the war story! Four months ago, their B-17 took off into a clear, Italian sky for the long leg north to Berlin. They hit their marks and dropped their bombs, but before they could make the big turn west, the German flank guns found them. A B-17 is a tough bird and Lieutenant Jensen, their pilot, fought hard to keep it in the air as they lumbered north and east, out of control. The smoke and flames got worse and worse inside, until the plan went into a steep dive. Mike and Eddie clawed their way to a side door and bailed out, but they were the only ones who made it. They came down in a muddy wheat field somewhere in East Prussia. Long columns of refugees choked the roads heading west, desperate to stay ahead of the Russians. Discarded furniture, mattresses, pianos, steamer trunks, and suitcases lay strewn along the roadside. He and Eddie found some civilian clothes and it was easy for them to blend in – not that it mattered. Two days later, they were stopped by a German Military Police roadblock, and the joke was on them. The Germans weren’t looking for American airmen. They were looking for strong backs to dig tank traps and clear rubble. Instead of a POW camp or being thrown against the closest wall and shot as spies, they were dragooned into a forced labor battalion headed north to Konigsberg.
It’s 1945 and the world is at war. Michael Randall and Eddie Hodge were Americans who found themselves in a world of trouble as they and their fellow prisoners were huddled together in an old truck bed trying to keep from freezing. Michael knew it was just a matter of time before their German watchdog Stolz would demand they leave the truck to start the day’s work. As Michael looked at Eddie he knew it would just be a matter of time before his life would be ended one way or another. He would either die due to the gangrene that had started eating away at his feet and legs or be shot by Stolz for not carrying his load of the work. Eddie’s solution was for Michael to find a way to put him out of his misery, which with a heavy heart, he did. Now he had to live with his guilt and his promise to not let those responsible get away with what they had done. This promise became the heart of Michael’s existence. He would make them pay and pay dearly.
Amongst My Enemies takes you on a tour of the world as Michael is put into a position that provides for his rescue from his capturers just before their vessel is attacked in Swedish waters. Before dying Eddie had also made Michael promise to visit his father and sister in South Carolina to explain to them what really happened and why. But his real promise came into place when a Charleston newspaper stated that Admiral Eric Bruckner was coming to New York. That simply wasn’t possible. Admiral Bruckner was the one who put Michael in a life boat before taking his U-boat back out into deep waters. He was also on board the U-boat when it was attacked and sunk. Proving this became Michael’s beginning of self-recovery and keeping his promise to Eddie. He just didn’t know what trouble he was about to step into.
Michael’s travels take him back to the coast of Sweden as he and a small group search for the sunken U-boat and expose the imposter. This will bring the Russians in as they try to destroy the find preventing the world from knowing about their infiltration into other countries defense systems. It will bring in the Germans who had stripped the U-boat and loaded it with gold, jewels and art work that had been collected throughout the war. Will Michael be strong and smart enough to succeed? Will the Germans recover the loot inside the boat? Or will the Russians blow it all to keep their ruse running?
I’m not a fan of war stories and seriously thought about having my friend who sometimes helps me read this book and do the review. Glad I didn’t. The more I read, the more I wanted to read. It held my attention to the very end. Great book!
4-Stars! Blood Red Books 5/21/12
William F. Brown takes the reader back to World War II and the cold war era where the keys to a WWII mystery lay at the bottom of the ocean.
Michael Randall is a door gunner of a B-17 bomber in WWII, that is until it was shot down over Germany, however, Mike and his friend Eddie are “lucky” as they are assigned to forced labour camps instead of a POW camp. All Mike can think of is escape and letting the world know about what he and Eddie suffered in the war. An opportunity presents itself when Mike is assigned to help load a German U-boat full of mysterious crates. Mike is able to stow away on the vessel and his presence on the U-boat sets off a chain reaction that some will loose and some will take the opportunity to exploit and it is up to Michael to make sure that everything is set right and that the world knows what really happened to U-582.
I have not ventured into too many WWII/Cold war based novels and after reading this book I do not know why I do not read them more often. This book had me invested in the first chapter. Brown really knows how to draw the reader in with the description, that you actually feel the cold, heat and fear of the character and the surrounding scenery. Mike and Eddie’s story is heartbreaking and like I said above the first chapter really drew me in and Brown was able to keep me very entertained and interested, it did not quit after a great start.
The character development was really well done, you get a sense of who Michael is and surprisingly Nazi Heinz Kruger as well. I was really happy that Brown took the time to allow the reader to get into Kruger’s head, as he is a very interesting character. I actually think that it is Kruger as the villain that really makes this book for me. His cold, calculation and takes vast amount of enjoyment in killing and he is disappointed that the war is ending because it afforded him access to lots of victims and less questions about his methods. Brown does an excellent job of describing Kruger’s emotions and face as he is killing shows him as a true psychopath and just makes him such an interesting character. Kruger really made this book for me. Michael was portrayed as an All-American hero who saw and did things that he would like to, but never will forget. Michael feels cursed and that all the people that died around him it was his fault. This is a big burden to carry around with him and it hinder his reintegration into a normal life. I think this is an aspect that many soldier that return from war face, as it becomes a question for them why them and not me (and Michael asks himself this many times). I appreciate that Brown has done research on both the PTSD of soldiers and sociopath/psychopath aspects.
This book has everything that you would want from a book based in this era, U-boats, guns, gold, stolen treasure and of course Nazis. All of this combines to make a really good thriller novel. I do wish there were a few more twist and turns within this novel and a little more suspense, but i think all in all the novel has everything one can ask for thriller.
This was a really good thriller novels and has reopened me up to reading books from this era (which my husband with love, as it means I will get more of these types of books and they are his preference). I think if you are looking to get into the thriller genre in this era that this book would be a great place to start as it does not over whelm you with historical facts and relies on description instead. There is no doubt that I would read another book by Brown, as I really enjoyed Amongst My Enemies. Enjoy!!!!
4-Stars! Olga 4/29/12
“I’ve never read any spy novels before now so when Mr. Brown contacted me asking to review Amongst My Enemies I was happy to explore this new-to-me genre, especially since his writing credits were encouraging. I’m glad to say the book did not disappoint.
Amongst My Enemies is a tightly-woven thriller with practically non-stop action and characters who are easy to care about or dislike. As I read and saw how different threads of the story were coming together I began to enjoy the book even more and soon I didn’t want to put it down – I wanted to see if the bad guys were going to get what they deserved and of course if Randall would have the guts to get the girl. There was a point when I though I knew what was going to happen (the short paragraph before chapter 1 spoiled that secret) and although I was right about the outcome the “how” took me by surprise. I did not expect the story to take the turn it did and that is always a good sign. That was just one of the many twists and turns and although I grew to anticipate them they did not become less satisfying.
There was a lot of action in this book and I’m pleased to say that those scenes were done well and were balanced with more low-key scenes that allowed for character development. It was fun to watch the spunky Leslie boss Michael around, or try to anyway, and seeing the antagonists during relative down time made them more human, if not less evil.
As engaging as the book is the copy I received is in dire need of a thorough proof-reading – the awkward punctuation, missing spaces between words and descriptions that repeated word for word time after time didn’t do the novel any favors. Had a careful copy-editor gone through the manuscript and eliminated all the distractions I would have given the book a higher rating. And one more thing that has nothing to do with proof-reading but it ruffles my feathers because everyone, including NPR, does it: why is it always “the Ukraine”? It’s one country, not a collection of states or territories, so just like Uganda, Uruguay and Uzbekistan it doesn’t get a “the”. It’s just “Ukraine”! I’m from there, I know.
If you enjoy spy novels with compelling characters and a fast-moving plot I’m sure you’ll like this book, especially if it gets a little TLC in the copy-editing department.”
5-Stars! Jim Chambers, 4/14/12
“A suspenseful, action-filled Cold War thriller.
Plot/Storyline: 4 1/2 stars
In the closing weeks of World War II, German U-boat U-582 slipped into the Baltic Sea on a top-secret mission for the second-most powerful man in Nazi Germany. The boat was never heard from again. When the U-boat’s captain turned up a few years later as an up-and-coming NATO official, American Michael Randall smelled a rat, since he had witnessed the U-boat go down with all hands. Soon, Randall was involved in an operation that would attract attention from several sides, including the United States, Sweden, Israel, the Soviet Union, and former Nazis in one of the first toe-to-toe confrontations of the Cold War.
William Brown has written another first rate suspense thriller with “Amongst My Enemies.” Think of the nonstop action of the 1960s film “Ice Station Zebra,” add some Nazis and Israelis to complicate things, and you’ve got all the elements of a real page-turner.
I enjoyed the story very much. I did have a problem with the scuba diving scenes in the Baltic Sea that led to the big climax. In the story, the divers went deep and stayed down a long time. In the real world, they would have likely died from decompression sickness (the “bends”).
Character Development: 4 3/4 stars
There was an ample number of characters to like, and an equal number to dislike. American Michael Randall couldn’t return home after the war until he worked through the memories of the horrors he experienced as a POW. When he finally returned to the U.S., he met Leslie Hodge, the sister of a buddy who died in Germany. It looked like a romance made in heaven, but Michael had dark secrets that threatened to destroy their relationship.
Heinz Kruger was a ruthless Nazi assassin who had a longstanding grudge with Michael Randall. He would have gladly killed Randall, but he needed information about the missing U-boat that only Randall could provide.
And not to leave out the Soviets, the MVD (secret police) had plenty of reasons to make sure that no one ever found the U-582. It was all in the hands of Sergei Valentsov, a high-ranking MVD official whose career could either skyrocket upward or take him to the basement of the Lubyanka for his execution. He was desperate enough to take any risks to succeed.
Overall, character development was quite good for a novel that was largely plot-driven.
Writing style: 5 stars
Having read other books by Mr. Brown, I expected taut, well written scenes and lively, realistic dialogues, and I was not disappointed. After the big climax, the denouement added a little more drama and made for a very satisfying ending with no loose ends.
Editing: 4 stars
The book needed another proofreading. I noticed a number of punctuation and spelling errors in the copy submitted to me for review.
4-Stars! Jon C. Oliver for Word Vagabond 3/29/12
“This was the first book by Mr. Brown that I have read; it will not be the last. In the closing days of WWII in Europe, Mike Randall and Eddie Hodge, door gunners on a B-17, are shot down over Berlin. Because they dress themselves in stolen civilian clothes, they are mistaken for peasants and assigned to a forced labor camp in Konigsberg, East Prussia, instead of a POW camp. Hodge’s feet become frost bitten in the frigid weather and he becomes too ill to work. With the help of Randall and Stolz, the German overseer, Hodge commits suicide to avoid the worse fate of being left to die at the side of the road. Randall promises to look up Eddie’s father and sister and tell them what happened.
In the port city of Konigsberg, Randall finds an opportunity to escape by stowing away on a U-boat while loading crates of mysterious cargo as the part of a work detail. The SS kill the other laborers and Mike is safe for now in the former torpedo room of the U-boat. When, Bruckner, the U-boat’s captain, takes a couple of men to the bow torpedo room to inspect their cargo, Mike is discovered. Bruckner comes to like the young American airman and determines to let him go. In the Kattegat Straits between Jutland and Sweden, Bruckner surfaces his U-boat and sets Mike free in a rubber raft. This is an unfortunate maneuver for Bruckner because, before he can get his U-boat underwater, it is sunk by an RAF hunter-killer bomber. Mike looks on with horror as his new friend and his crew are blown up and sunk.
Einer Person, the captain of a Swedish fishing boat, The Brunnhilde, rescues Mike from the cold unforgiving waters off the coast of Sweden and takes him into his home. Mike is nursed back to health and spends the next six years in the small fishing port of Trellestad, working as a crewman on The Brunnhilde. When Mike decides it is time to return to the States to look up Hodge’s father and sister, Einer informs Mike that he has a substantial amount of money that has been saved for him as his wages from crewing The Brunnhilde. After a trip to the American Embassy in Stockholm, Mike departs for the United States.
Mike makes his way to Rock Creek, SC where Eddie’s father, Earl, and sister, Leslie, operate an oyster boat. While duck hunting, Mike finds the opportunity to tell Earl what happened to his son. He finds it more difficult to bring the subject up with Leslie. Mike stays on in Rock Creek because he sees that Earl needs help operating the oyster boat. His guilt over surviving when Eddie doesn’t prevents Mike from acting on his increasing affection for Leslie; even as they work more closely together on the boat when Earl needs to take a break. There is a tense status quo between them.
This is broken when Earl draws Mike’s attention to an article in the Charleston newspaper about West German Admiral Erich Bruckner’s trip to NYC as the new head of NATO’s naval intelligence and war planning section. The article claims that Bruckner spent four years in a brutal Soviet labor camp after his U-boat was sunk in the Baltic. Mike has to go to New York to confirm the identity of this West German admiral. Not surprisingly, when Mike gets the opportunity to get close to the admiral, he knows that it is not the real Erich Bruckner and that he has to convince the authorities that this Bruckner is an imposter. No one in authority will listen to Mike and he knows the only way he can prove his story is to return to Sweden and find the wreckage of U-582, Bruckner’s U-boat. With the help of some people who do believe him: a retired Jewish NYC detective, two Massad divers and Leslie; Mike heads back to Sweden and enlists the help of Einer and The Brunnhilde. Complicating their search is MVD, the Russian secret service, which is running the fake Admiral Bruckner as a mole, and Kruger, an assassin who works for Martin Borman, supposed recipient of the mysterious cargo on U-582. At the close of the war in Europe, Borman had made it to Bolivia and a hideout high in the Andes. Mike and his crew overcome the odds and locate and recover the sunken U-boat and its cargo.
While the Russians take care of the bogus Admiral Bruckner, Mike takes his time going to Bolivia to tie up the loose end, Martin Borman.
The timeline for this story is from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s. In that time you get to know Mike well. His pain with the events after he and his friend, Eddie, are shot down over Germany and Eddie’s subsequent suicide; his recovery as he works for six years with his rescuers in Sweden; and his struggles dealing with his feelings for Eddie’s sister, complicated by his guilt over surviving while Eddie didn’t.
Sometimes you want to give Mike a swift kick and tell him to move on with Leslie; to start living his life. Then the Bogus Bruckner makes his appearance and the story takes on a whole new dimension. The narrative picks up dramatically and is enhanced by several edge-of-the-seat moments climaxing as three forces race for the missing U-boat: the Russians to save the integrity of their mole; the German’s, in the form of Borman’s henchman, Kruger, to salvage their treasure; and, Mike and his crew to expose the dangerous faux Bruckner with his access to all of NATO’s naval secrets. The action sequences are very well done and kept me reading when I should have been doing other things.
The exposition is very good, description is excellent, and the narrative moves at a nice pace, particularly in the second half of the book.
This was the first book by Mr. Brown that I have read; it will not be the last.
5-Stars! This book was captivating from start to finish. Could not put it down. There were no slow parts and the ending was quite a surprise. I must say the author has quite a knowledge of numerous parts of this country in great detail. A must read for people that enjoy thrillers
Dr. Marc Hudes – 2/10/12
5-Stars! Gary Showalter’s Books 1/29/12
A historical thriller in every sense of the word! “Amongst My Enemies” grabs you and just does not let go. William Brown has a very strong sense of his characters and this shines through in his novel. “Amongst My Enemies” is a tale told near the end of WWII and the years after. The main Character, a door gunner on a B-17, is of two survivors following the downing of the bomber over Germany. They are caught and wind up in Konigsberg on the north cost of Germany.
His friend is suffering badly under the brutal treatment they receive working as slave labor in the Naval pot. Eventually frostbite turns to gangrene and the main Character, Mike Randall, must help his friend end his suffering. It is a traumatic moment that Brown pulls off with both a powerful descriptive voice and sensitivity for the men trapped in an emotional meat grinder.
Randall carries the horror of those moments for the rest of the novel. A thirst for revenge and a determination to see justice served on the men who slaughtered millions during that brutal war become harsh taskmasters for Randall.
Without letting any spoilers creep into this review, allow me to state that is very much a ‘period’ piece; yet it serves to illustrate William Brown’s masterful abilities as a researcher and an interpreter of history. His knowledge of the period and his ability to present his characters as much more that cardboard cutouts serves him well in presenting a thriller from the post-war years.
I strongly recommend this one.
5-Stars! - Great Story! 1/26/12
This is actually the first novel of this genre that Ii have read and reviewed. And I’m glad I did! This book kicks off from the start and grabs the readers attention and doesnt let go. It has a little bit everything. Mystery, intrigue, suspense and even some romance. The main character is an all-American type that you can really understand and sympathize with. The story is so real you can feel yourself feeling what the characters feel. The suspense is edge of your seat and keeps you wanting to keep reading to find out what happens next. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be looking for more from this author!
Jenn’s Book Blog
5-Stars! Wendy at Minding Spot 1/19/12
“An intelligent, powerful and thought-provoking adventure! Mike Randall’s bomber went down in Germany during the war. He and his friend Eddie survive for months as slave labor in the freezing battle scarred land. Eventually, Eddie succumbs to frostbite, and Mike is more determined than ever to survive. He promised Eddie he would visit his family and let them know what really happened, and he aims to keep it.
A high ranking officer of the 3rd Reich purloins an old U-boat to haul millions of dollars’ worth of artifacts and gold for his own personal reasons. Fortunately for Mike, he escapes his labor truck and stows away on the submarine before it leaves. The captain finds him, a German who doesn’t agree with the politics but wants to stay alive, and he gives Mike mercy – food, shelter, warmth. He also puts Mike on a black rubber raft near the shores of Sweden, neutral territory where Mike can eventually find his way home. But while Mike was on the raft, the U-boat, surfaced, is bombed by overhead jets. There are no survivors.
Mike spends time in Sweden then eventually makes his way home to America, to Eddie’s house. There, he falls in love with Eddie’s sister Leslie, even though he doesn’t pursue the relationship. After all he has been through; he can’t imagine pulling anyone else into his nightmares. Then, something surprising happens. The captain of the U-boat Mike was on is touring and making a stop in New York. Mike was sure he was dead, so he immediately wants to go see him and to thank him for his chance.
When Mike confronts the man, he acts surprised. Mike is sure that it is an imposter. With the help of Manny, a retired police detective, Mike divulges what he knows. But before they can investigate, there is an attempt on Mike’s life. Not sure what is going on, Manny implores Mike that he needs to go back to Sweden and find the U-boat.
Mike can’t even remember where the U-boat went down; just a vague idea. With Leslie and Manny with him though, he decides to give it a shot. Will he live long enough to find it? With some wanting gold, some wanting proof that there is a spy inside NATO and some just wanting Mike and his friends dead, there is a lot of ducking and conniving to outsmart them, but will they? How high of a cost are they willing to pay?
Amongst My Enemies is an intelligent, powerful and thought-provoking adventure. A tale rich in history unfolds, leaving the reader begging for more. Brown’s characters are compelling, sharp and authentic. From freezing Germany to bustling New York to the fishing wharves of Sweden, Brown takes the reader on an unforgettable journey. Suspense, murder, romance, heart-pumping action scenes and spectacular writing, Amongst My Enemies is one of the best old-fashioned adventures I’ve had the pleasure to read. Definitely pick this one up!
5-Stars - Crystal Book Reviews – 1/6/12
“Redemption in the Good, Bad and Ugly Remnants of WWII! Mike Randall is an American pilot shot down during World War II over Northern Germany, treated mercilessly as a German POW to do labor in conditions where one wondered whether one would freeze or starve to death first. While there, his buddy is dying and Mike makes a choice that will haunt him for the rest of his days. As if that were not enough, he is taken on a job and stows away on a ship carrying valuables stolen by the Germans from the captured and murdered Jews. A German officer allows Mike to go free but what follows literally minutes after he is placed in a boat to go ashore is a burden that causes Mike to have a physical and mental breakdown! War is indeed hell for Mike Randall!
After being cared for by a kind Swedish family, Mike years later sees a news story that he knows he must follow-up on – the identification of a German officer who is not who he says he is. Not to spoil the story, a journey begins in New York and continues in Germany that involves an American detective, former German military who are hidden but ever-plotting, Russians who are looking to guarantee the spread of Communism, and numerous other sharks who will maim and kill just like all the others to guarantee their own wealth and power.
No, this is not just another war story! William Brown takes the reader to the heights and dregs of the human condition, giving glimpses to the motives and relationships that are ruled by head and heart, sometimes but not always balanced or whole. On the other hand, there are many characters who understand what Mike has endured and why he must bring some type of closure to the past and perhaps redeem the ghosts that haunt him on a daily basis. He surprisingly is drawn into a relationship with a spunky female whom he fears because of his secret that she doesn’t know, but even there the author credibly leads them into a compassionate and passionate place.
This is a story that speeds along like a Ken Follett or Eric Ludlum novel of old. For those who love adventure, thrills, and mystery with a tinge of romance, this novel will leave you breathless and wanting more from this skillful writer. Splendidly written!
5-Stars – Steve Moore for Book Pleasures 1/3/12
“An entertaining historical thriller! This story might be categorized as “historical fiction,” but the second word almost seems incorrect—the historical details are so well interwoven and authentic that the reader will swear Mr. Brown lived through them. It might also be categorized as “a thriller”—there are thrills and suspenseful twists at every turn of the page. It might even be categorized as “a romance”—the two protagonists are as right for each other as Romeo and Juliet.
Perhaps it is best to categorize this story as a “tale of intrigue, adventure, and romance.” It reminds me of Jeffery Deaver’s Garden of Beasts and Frederic Forsythe’s The Odessa File. It is the tale of Michael Randall, an unlucky POW at the end of WWII, and his quest for closure. Here closure means revenge, a desire so intense that it almost takes him into a dark place where everything else, including his love for Leslie Hodge, comes in a distant second place.
I read this novel in two evenings and then scanned it again with a more critical eye. That first comment means that “the book is a real page-turner” is the appropriate cliché, although this takes on a new meaning with eBooks (the book only has an eBook version). The second means that I considered it worthy of study. I’m a writer and I often do much more than just marvel at another writer’s creativity—I try to learn from it. As entertainment, this story is much better than The Undertaker, the Brown book I reviewed previously. It is also very different and full of deeper meaning. It provides one answer to the eternal question: What must good men and women do when evil walks among them? Dean Koontz has made a career answering this question. Mr. Brown is off to a good start doing the same here.
I don’t know if Mr. Brown is a diver. Living in Ohio, there’s not much chance to practice locally, although I suppose people do dive in the Great Lakes. In any case, the descriptions of the dives off the old Swedish fishing boat down to a sunken U-boat are vivid and exciting. My own overly active imagination was put into over-drive by the underwater battles between the various parties trying to exploit the submarine’s secrets. Two admirable characters died quickly in those waters off Sweden—the U-boat captain and the fat retired cop from New York. I grieved for them as if they were old friends. Both were complex characters—I bet that most readers will share my desire to know more about them.
I have two general complaints. For a more inferior work, they would be deadly. For a novel as good as Amongst My Enemies, I tend to overlook them. The book has both a weak beginning and ending. Let me consider first the ending. After taking the reader on a breathless marathon through most of the book, I found the last part describing the search for the Nazi mastermind to be all too brief. In fact, if I could write such a book, I would have spent many pages on this search and its outcome. As written by Mr. Brown, though, it was a bit of a letdown.
The beginning—two pages of historical prolog—gave away the climax that preceded the ending. I realize that the book is not a mystery. You know who the villains are and what they’ve done. Nevertheless, that beginning set my expectations. I was hoping for a twist, but it didn’t come. Again, if I could write such a book, I would not have included this prolog. (I know agents who absolutely refuse to consider an MS with a prolog—a bit over the top, but I can understand their sentiments.) To an avid reader in the suspense genre, Mr. Brown’s prolog gives away too much.
A very minor complaint is that some re-editing is in order. Various errors that confuse a spell checker are present, including additional or dropped words. Unlike some self-published books I’ve read or reviewed, these errors are not frequent enough to distract the reader and are not as common as I’ve seen in some books, especially eBooks, that originate from the big publishers, especially when they try to squeeze some more out of an old favorite.
In summary, Amongst My Enemies is a marvelous, suspenseful, breath-taking read set in a tumultuous era in Europe, the U.S., and Bolivia. I recommend it.
5-Stars – Anne B for Reader’s Favorites 12/31/ 11
“Amongst My Enemies by William F. Brown begins with a prologue reminding people of the attacks against Israel and how Israel grew in strength within a few years. In chapter one the scene shifts to WWII and a group of POWs forced to labor in Konigsberg Germany. There we meet Michael Randall, a man ready to explode. “the Russians understood. They said if you pound on a man long enough and give him absolutely nothing to live for, he might curl up in a shell and die, or he might explode. He might “grab the Devil by his coattails and hang on for the ride.” Michael and his best friend Eddie Hodge flew together fought together and were held prisoner together. When Eddie became so sick he could no longer walk he begged Michael to help him die. Michael and the other prisoners were force to load a U-Boat with odd shaped packages bound for Argentina. The packages contained gold, paintings, and art. Michael sees the U-Boat as a possible means of escape but was later placed in a small rubber raft in the vast ocean close to Sweden. Michael watched as the U-Boat sunk. In Part II we move forward in time to 1948. The story moves forward in time. Many factions know about the gold and each one wants the boat and its cargo. Michael only wants revenge.
One of the things that made this book special to me was the fact that I had just visited the WWII museum in New Orleans. William F. Brown captures the ambience of the era. He breathed life in the characters. The plot is an exciting adventure- thriller. Brown skillfully weaves the threads of the story together creating a tapestry that tells the story of Michael and the contains of the missing U-Boat.
I love books that draw you into the scenes so tightly that you feel as if you are there yourself. The author has done an excellent job of researching down to the ‘nth degree of detail. Readers will not feel that anything has been left out in this tale of war, greed, espionage, and real cold war concerns from the past..it is that believable! This is an excellent read and I am honored to have been given the opportunity to review it.
5-Stars - Glynn Young - Faith, Fiction, and Friends – 12/22/11
“A Highly Entertaining and Nail-Biting Read! I’m not a fan of movies or books about World War II. And I don’t normally read espionage thrillers. So I approached William Brown’s “Amongst My Enemies” with something akin to hesitation, because it’s a novel about World War II and its aftermath and Cold War espionage. But I had read and reviewed Brown’s novel “The Undertaker” and really liked it, so I thought I would overcome my usual reluctance and read this new one.
I’d forgotten how much I could enjoy a good story, even if it is about subjects I don’t usually read. And “Amongst My Enemies” is one good, nail biting story.
Michael Randall and Eddie Hodges are part of the American crew flying in a B-17 bomber. The plane is hit after a bombing run over Berlin; Randall and Hodges are the only crew members to survive. They’re eventually taken prisoner and find themselves part of a prisoner labor gang in the east Prussian city of Konigsberg. Hodges gets frostbite which leads to gangrene; he convinces his friend to help him kill himself and extracts a promise: Randall has to survive and tell Hodges’ family what happened – and the horror of Nazi Germany.
Randall’s group of prisoners is forced to load a U-boat with all kinds of odd-shaped boxes – a U-boat reconstructed to carry cargo instead of torpedoes. The operation is under the supervision of an SS officer, Heniz Kruger, who reports directly to Nazi chieftain Martin Bormann. What’s inside the boxes is to be shipped to Argentina. Among his other qualities, Kruger enjoys killing people.
Randall is able to hide out on the U-boat but is found once the submarine is underway. The captain, “the last decent man in Germany’s military,” has Randall placed in a rubber dingy off the coast of Sweden. Minutes later, the U-boat is bombed and sunk by British fighter planes.
The shell-shocked American spends the next three years with the Swedish fish boat captain who plucks him from the Baltic. And then he returns to the United States to keep his promise to his friend.
I provide that detailed background because it sets the stage for what unfolds over the next four years. What Michael Randall knows about that U-boat will become of critical importance to the New York police, the new Israeli government, the Russians, the CIA and a very much alive Martin Bormann, who didn’t die as reported in the final days of Hitler’s Berlin. Bormann is very much alive in Bolivia – and has an able assistant named Heinz Kruger. And Bormann wants his U-boat.
Brown has done an enormous amount of research in writing this novel, from the details of a U-boat interior and the fishing industry in Sweden to Nazi politics and legends and underwater salvage operations. The novel is a fast, exciting read – the author excels at keeping the reader both gasping for air and reading on.
I still may not be a fan of World War II and espionage novels, but I am becoming a fan of William Brown. “Amongst My Enemies” is a highly entertaining novel.