Black Cross by Greg Iles; page count 528.
The novel is about two men at opposite ends of the spectrum during World War II: Mark McConnell, an American medical doctor, chemist and pacifst working on defensive gas suits and Jonas Stern a Jewish zionist fighting to gain Palestine who hails originally from Germany. The two a recruited by English OSS (office of strategic services) to con the Nazis into thinking the Allies have a nerve gas.
I like reading about World war II, and espionage, and nerve gas is an interesting topic which I do not know much about. I liked that Iles does not stray too far from historical events to set up his novel. (Although, admittedly he takes more creative licence than other WWII books I’ve read.) Iles, unfortunately, throws in the grandson of Mark McConnell in at the beginning and end of the book. Frankly, I found this completely unnecesary. The story stood up just fine on its own. No need to gild the lily. The other thing I did not completely enjoy about this book was its tendancy to lag in the mid-to-last fourth of the book. I took me a while to muddle through those chapters. I also found some scenarios to be a tiny bit contrived, mostly in the character set-up. It might have been possible for everything to fall just so, but it’s a bit of a stretch..
I listened to the audio version read by Dick Hill and except for his pronaunciation of “appalachia” I fell in love with his Georgian accent. Good job, sir!
I’ve got to be honest, I generally liked the book, and did not feel it was a complete waste of my time. However, I cannot say wholeheartedly that I would recommend it to others. Only if they were very specific about the sort of book they wanted (e.g. a WWII historic fiction, and previously read better titles.)