"Well, let's put it this way, you'll be a major by nightfall or dead."
No one knows the story how of a group of Germans invaded Britain for the sole purpose of kidnapping Winston Churchill. All that remains is a concealed gravestone dedicated to a unit of Germans paratroopers in a British churchyard. The truth is a closely guarded secret by the citizens of Studley Constable, a village that was the epicentre of the most daring raid of the entire war.
Having never read Higgins before, I had no expectations in reading this book. But I can honestly say this was a poignant, entertaining and exciting read. As a result I can't wait to read more of his works.
There's a variety of characters, all with depth, personality and a derth of needs and wants. Surprisingly enough, the majority of the story is told from the perspective of the antagonists. This is counter to what you would normally expect. Much like "Bel Canto" and "House of Cards", the writing convinces the reader to essentially sympathize with the villain(s) of the story.
Also, in most stories the tension is derived from not knowing how it all ends. This has all been avoided here as the book was written as frame story, meaning we already know how it ends. This can often be a risky idea as it often deflates interest but if done well, it draws readers in by focusing on how and why events end the way they do. Instead of concerning themselves with the end of the story, readers are more interested in the journey/middle.
Truthfully the majority of the action takes place in the last 50-100 pages but I was never bored or frustrated by this. Higgins slowly moves the playing pieces into place. He slowly builds the plot, interweaving plotlines until you can see the inexorable disaster looming in the distance, forcing the reader to continue, already knowing the outcome.
If you enjoy WWII stories filled with intrigue and like a bit of a twist on the traditional 'hero' story, check out this book.