Friday, September 22, 2017

Book Review: 'The Broken Barrier' by Sarah J. Stone

Florida author William F. Brown has penned eight suspense novels and four award-winning screenplays. His specialty is thriller stories that step into the arena of espionage – a very popular topic at this particular time. William is a native of Chicago, received undergraduate and graduate degrees from The University of Illinois, and served as a Company Commander in the US Army. He then raveled widely in the US and abroad as a Vice President of the real estate subsidiary of a Fortune 500 corporation. William is also a landscape artist.

Will’s ability to connect with his audience is one of his many strong points. Before plunging into this Spy thrill he offers some background of the story – ‘In the spring of 1948, the newly created State of Israel was attacked from three sides by the regular armies of five Arab nations. The Israeli ‘army’ consisted of ill-trained militia units armed with old rifles and a handful of light machineguns. They had no tanks, no artillery, and no air force. Eight years later, in the Sinai War of 1956, the Israelis were able to field highly effective armored, mechanized infantry, airborne, artillery, and air force units in a lightning attack that crushed the Egyptians and pushed them back to the Suez Canal. How did a little country like that get all that stuff?’

Part one opens in Germany in 1945 – ‘Dante had it wrong. Hell wasn’t a blazing inferno filled with the mournful cries of the damned; it was the frozen plains of northern Germany, and it could be quiet as a grave. That day began like all the ones before it, with Stolz, the German Kapo or head guard, pounding his meaty fist on the side of the rusty old truck as he screamed, "Raus! Raus!" Out! Up in the truck’s canvas-covered cargo bed, a mound of ragged, emaciated prisoners would shudder and shrink into the shadows; but the sad truth was there was no place to hide and they knew it. They were what was left of a forced labor battalion trapped here in the frozen rubble of K√∂nigsberg on the Baltic coast in East Prussia. Remnants of the German Army and the SS still held the old port city, surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered by a vengeful Red Army; and life can’t get any more tenuous than that. Most of the prisoners huddled together in that old truck bed were Russian, with a smattering of Poles, Lithuanians and Czechs, but no one cared. Michael Randall and Eddie Hodge were American, but no one cared about that either’

The tense story is outlined well – ‘‘Inside a rusting German U-Boat are millions in gold bars, stolen art, and a secret that could tear NATO apart. The KGB, the CIA, Nazi SS hitmen, even the Israeli Mossad – everyone is willing to kill for it, but only former US Airman Mike Randall knows the truth. After his B-17 crashes in East Prussia in the winter of 1945, Randall finds himself in a Nazi forced labor battalion in Konigsberg on the frozen Baltic coast, surrounded by the Red Army. Also in the old port is Kapitan Eric Bruckner, one of Germany’s last surviving U-Boats, and SS Major Heinz Kruger, Martin Bormann’s sinister hatchet man. Unaware that the U-Boat has been tapped for a top-secret mission, Randall manages to stow away. After a British bomber sends the U-boat to the bottom, he is the lone survivor and the only one who knows what is really inside. Seven years later, when Randall finally speaks up, he puts a target on his own forehead, one that the Russians, the West Germans, the U-boat’s former Nazi owners, the US government, and even the Israeli Mossad quickly take aim at. Some want the gold, some want Randall dead, and some want proof that there is a high-ranking spy inside NATO itself. What Mike Randall wants is much simpler. Caught between the Kremlin’s spies, the CIA, the Mossad, and a new, deadly, 4th Reich, all he wants is to pay an old debt with a steel-jacketed bullet.’

Few writers today match Will’s style with thriller on a contemporary stage. He never lets us down, and this book is especially strong. Grady Harp, May 17
This book is free on Kindle Unlimited.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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