2017 Reviews · fiction · historical fiction · suspense · thriller

Book Review: The Saboteur by Andrew Gross

Title: The Saboteurthe saboteur small

Author:  Andrew Gross

Published: August 29th 2017

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Pages: 352

Genres:  Fiction, Historical, Thriller

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 4 stars

Kurt Nordstrum, an engineer in Oslo, puts his life aside to take up arms against the Germans as part of the Norwegian resistance. After the loss of his fiancée, his outfit whittled to shreds, he commandeers a coastal steamer and escapes to England to transmit secret evidence of the Nazis’s progress towards an atomic bomb at an isolated factory in Norway. There, he joins a team of dedicated Norwegians in training in the Scottish Highlands for a mission to disrupt the Nazis’ plans before they advance any further.

Parachuted onto the most unforgiving terrain in Europe, braving the fiercest of mountain storms, Nordstrum and his team attempt the most daring raid of the war, targeting the heavily-guarded factory built on a shelf of rock thought to be impregnable, a mission even they know they likely will not survive. Months later, Nordstrum is called upon again to do the impossible, opposed by both elite Nazi soldiers and a long-standing enemy who is now a local collaborator—one man against overwhelming odds, with the fate of the war in the balance, but the choice to act means putting the one person he has a chance to love in peril.

Based on the stirring true story, The Saboteur is Andrew Gross’s follow-up to the riveting historical thriller, The One Man. A richly-woven story probing the limits of heroism, sacrifice and determination, The Saboteur portrays a hero who must weigh duty against his heart in order to singlehandedly end the one threat that could alter the course of the war.

My review:

Tightly woven around true events, The Saboteur is the latest historical novel from bestselling author Andrew Gross and it is a thrill ride from start to finish. Gross places his hero, Kurt Nordstrum, who is based on the real-life figure of Kurt Haukelid, at the centre of this extremely risky mission to save Europe from the dangerous grand plan orchestrated by the Nazi regime. To bring down the Nazi’s most deadliest weapon yet, Kurt and his team must complete one of the most daring acts in World War II history. The Saboteur is an on the edge of your seat, high voltage thriller.

The Saboteur begins with the story of Kurt Nordstrum. Kurt is a widower from Oslo, who is seeking to distract himself from his loss when he decides to join the Allied troops. When he hears whispers of an undercover mission to thwart the Nazi’s atomic bomb plans, he is very quickly drawn to the cause. Kurt throws himself into the operation completely, but what he and the troops involved in this top secret mission do not realise is just how perilous the task will be to bring down the Nazis. The team must first bide their time, choosing exactly the right moment to strike. In order to save Europe from total annihilation, they must enter undetected and destroy the Nazi weapons held at both the Norsk Hydro factory and the Hydro ferry in Southern Norway. This is a gripping story based on one the most audacious acts of World II.

There are so many stories that continue to come out of the ashes of World War II. The Saboteur is a book that worked to draw my attention to an incredible and deeply heroic chapter in World II’s history. The real life events that this book is closely based on, is another great act of self sacrifice and courage in the face of a deadly war, which I have now have my attention drawn to. Andrew Gross has taken an admirable leaf out of the pages of the history books. Gross has successfully brought to life a brave tale of one man and his inspiring team’s remarkable efforts to bring down one of the most destructive plans in Nazi history.

The Saboteur is undeniably a book based on heavy research and fact. Gross manages to bring a great dose of realism to this fictionalised tale. There is no sense that the truth has been stretched in this novel. The pure sense of excitement in The Saboteur comes from the fact that these events did happen. Aided by Gross’ prose, it was easy to envisage this adventure tale playing out. The Saboteur is one of those fantastic historical fiction novels that provides the reader with a history lesson in an accessible way. Gross has obviously collated a vast amount of information both on the Norwegian resistance fighters involved in this cause and the events itself. Gross weaves this information carefully into a comprehensive tale.

There is a strong line of suspense underpinning The Saboteur. As we follow the dangerous traps that await lead character Kurt and his men, Gross puts the audience on high alert. It is a real nail biter, as the resistance fights off the advances of the relentless Nazi war machine.  Readers will be quite taken with the steady build up in this novel. The first part of The Saboteur concentrates on the group’s plans and careful operation for the mission to be activated. While the second half delivers non-stop action. When Kurt and his dedicated men face off against the Germans, the fallout is spectacular but deadly. It is in these scenes that Gross is able to allow his characterisation to take full flight. The lead, Kurt is a finely drawn character and Gross has modelled him well against his real life inspiration. Kurt is a real hero, pitted against a great villain in Captain Lund. Lund fills the role of the bad guy in the novel fittingly. Overall, Gross presents the reader a great collection of fictionalised characters,  drawn from real life figures involved in this historic event.

A big feature of The Saboteur and another force the resistance must contend with is the harsh landscape of where the water plant and ferry, the main subjects of this novel, are located. Gross vividly paints a picture of this isolated and inhospitable landscape that defines the setting of this novel. The treacherous landscape and winter weather is another battle the brave men featured in The Saboteur must contend with. The accompanying descriptions of the locale are incredibly vivid and sent more than one cold shiver down my spine while reading this novel.

There are some great themes incorporated in The Saboteur. Action, suspense, risk, devotion and putting your life on the line for a deadly cause, makes this a great historical thriller. It is a book where the tension level was set high and it kept me on my toes, delivering more than a few surprises. History buffs will be sure to enjoy this book and with the added bonus of The Saboteur being so closely linked to real life events makes it all the more compelling.

The Saboteur by Andrew Gross was published on August 29th 2017 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Saboteur, Andrew Gross, visit here.

*I wish to thank Pan Macmillan for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

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