Black Cross

Black Cross

4.3 57
by Greg Iles
     
 

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When a young Atlanta physician attends the funeral of the grandparents who raised him, he is approached by a silver-haired rabbi who claims to have known his grandfather well. Returning together to the family home, they open his grandfather's safe. There they discover four mysterious objects - the relics of a man haunted by something he did one winter night in 1944 -… See more details below

Overview

When a young Atlanta physician attends the funeral of the grandparents who raised him, he is approached by a silver-haired rabbi who claims to have known his grandfather well. Returning together to the family home, they open his grandfather's safe. There they discover four mysterious objects - the relics of a man haunted by something he did one winter night in 1944 - an act that brought him unparalleled honors, but left wounds in his soul that would never heal. As the story of these secret souvenirs unfolds, the grandson's concept of honor is stretched to the breaking point and his notion of heroism redefined forever. In January 1944, four people held the fate of the world in their hands. They were not statesmen or generals, but an American doctor, a German nurse, a Zionist killer, and a young Jewish widow. At the command of Winston Churchill, these four strangers are brought together in a place almost beyond imagination. It is a small SS-run concentration camp serving as the incubator for a weapon of staggering lethality - a weapon U.S. General Omar Bradley later admitted could have wiped out the D-day invasion force on Omaha Beach. What they are forced to do in the name of victory - and survival - demonstrates with terrible clarity that in a world where all is at stake, war has no rules.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Henceforth, any recommended reading list of thrillers about commando raids behind enemy lines will have to include this second novel by Iles (Spandau Phoenix), who has come up with an action-packed yet thoughtful yarn about a mission to stop the Nazi development of two new poison gases, Sarin and Somin, in a small concentration camp. Mark McConnell, a pacifist American doctor and poison-gas researcher, and Jonas Stern, a Zionist assassin, are chosen by the British to attack the camp. They are instructed to kill all its occupants (including the inmates) by unleashing Britain's own meager supply of Sarin, and to return with information about the manufacture of the gases. The story of McConnell and Stern's training and raid alternates with that of several people interned in the camp, among them Stern's father. The two strands come together in a swift and moving story about mercy, sacrifice and the horrors of war. The mission's purpose is problematic: Would Britain's use of Sarin to kill everyone at the camp really have convinced Himmler to discontinue further research and to persuade Hitler never to use poison gas for fear of Allied retaliation? But Iles builds suspense around the mission itself, not its aftermath, and winds up with an unusually resonant, gripping thriller that's a strong bet for bestsellerdom. Literary Guild alternate; audio rights to Penguin HighBridge; author tour. (Jan.)
Library Journal
After Dr. Mark (Mac) McConnell dies, his grandson discovers the American pacifist had served the war effort 50 years ago: D-Day is imminent when British Prime Minister Churchill learns that the Nazis have a ``Black Cross'' class of deadly nerve gases. The British coerce Mac, then a defensive chemical warfare researcher at Oxford, into accompanying a battle-hardened Zionist to execute a plan to convince the Germans that the British also have the gas. Mac and his accomplice must penetrate the German concentration camp where the gases are being developed and tested, then destroy the camp with the Allies' own tiny supply of Black Cross gas. Aided by a German nurse, they pull off the improbable plot. Like Iles's previous book, Spandau Phoenix (LJ, 4/15/93), this is graphically violent and fast paced, but it is more tightly written and better focused than that first novel, which was a New York Times best seller in paperback. A tribute to World War II valor and sacrifice, this suspenseful, above average thriller is recommended for popular fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/94.].-V. Louise Saylor, Eastern Washington Univ. Lib., Cheney
Emily Melton
This stunning, horrifying, mesmerizing novel will keep readers transfixed from beginning to end. Iles' latest book tells the story of a physician from Georgia and a German Jew who manage to forestall Hitler's use of poison nerve gas during World War II by destroying a secret laboratory hidden in a Nazi death camp. The rash plan for infiltrating the camp and destroying the laboratory has been developed by the Allies and led by Winston Churchill and will require nerves of steel, physical and emotional stamina, unparalleled bravery, and incredible luck. If it works, millions of lives will be saved. But there is a horrible price to pay for the larger victory--hundreds of Jewish prisoners interred in the camp may also die. From the very first page, lles takes his readers on an emotional roller-coaster ride, juxtaposing tension-filled action scenes, horrifying depictions of savage cruelty, and heart-stopping descriptions of sacrifice and bravery. A remarkable story from a remarkable writer, this one deserves the acclaim it's certain to receive.
From the Publisher
“A swift historical thriller of such brutal accomplishment that it vaporizes almost every cliché about the limits of the genre...good enough to read twice”—Kirkus Reviews Booklist“Like a Swiss watch wired to a bundle of dynamite; impeccable craftsmanship tick-tocking inexorably to an explosive climax. A wonderful mingling of technology, suspense, and character, and a fine exploration of the true nature of patriotism.”—Diana Gabaldon, author of Voyager and Outlander

“…Vital, compelling, magnificent...It has everything—danger, suspense, intrigue, romance, and chills…Characters so finely drawn it is impossible to believe they are fiction…Greg Iles is a major talent, a force to be reckoned with.”—Romantic Times

“Henceforth, any recommended reading list of thrillers will have to include this…Action-packed yet thoughtful, unusually resonant and gripping, swift and moving…A strong bestseller bet.”—Publishers Weekly

“A wonderful thriller…Absolutely remarkable…One of the most exciting action stories ever written…Filled with derring-do.”—Mystery News

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780525938293
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
01/28/1995
Pages:
528
Product dimensions:
6.42(w) x 9.29(h) x 1.66(d)

What People are saying about this

Nelson De Mille
Totally absorbing and ingenius!
From the Publisher
“A swift historical thriller of such brutal accomplishment that it vaporizes almost every cliché about the limits of the genre...good enough to read twice”—Kirkus Reviews Booklist “Like a Swiss watch wired to a bundle of dynamite; impeccable craftsmanship tick-tocking inexorably to an explosive climax. A wonderful mingling of technology, suspense, and character, and a fine exploration of the true nature of patriotism.”—Diana Gabaldon, author of Voyager and Outlander

“…Vital, compelling, magnificent...It has everything—danger, suspense, intrigue, romance, and chills…Characters so finely drawn it is impossible to believe they are fiction…Greg Iles is a major talent, a force to be reckoned with.”—Romantic Times

“Henceforth, any recommended reading list of thrillers will have to include this…Action-packed yet thoughtful, unusually resonant and gripping, swift and moving…A strong bestseller bet.”—Publishers Weekly

“A wonderful thriller…Absolutely remarkable…One of the most exciting action stories ever written…Filled with derring-do.”—Mystery News

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