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Posted August 23, 2013
Blood Winter by William Patrick
The year is 1917. WWI is on its third year. The British blockade of Germany has the country almost starved. The Germans have consumed their canine and feline populations and have started butchering people as a source of meat. ("Soilent Green is people").
In the middle of this chaos, there's British intelligence that suggest that Germany is planning a last ditch effort: Operation Alberich. The British suspect this to be a chemical warfare - simply because they are thinking the same. The British have developed a weapon capable of delivering anthrax to the battlefield but they are afraid to use it because they don't have an antidote.
Enter Eli Gordon, a Harvard graduate physician who is helping at the surgical hospitals in France. Because he's an American, and the US has yet to enter the war, he's recruited by the British to investigate the German chemical arsenal, and whether the German possess a "magical bullet" to combat the anthrax.
Gordon's venture in Berlin leads him to Dr. Margarethe Riesling, a University of Michigan graduate that is currently working on the biochemical warfare department at the Institute for Infectious diseases in Berlin.
Dr. Riesling is the only person who can prove to the British that the Germans do not possess a chemical arsenal, but she is in line to discover penicillin - the "magical bullet" given to the world by Alexander Fleming in 1928.
Ultimately, Riesling and Gordon, bound first by necessity but then by passion, must survive a deadly chase across Germany into Holland to prevent the greatest military atrocity the world has ever known.
They are chased by Andreas Schiller, a German criminal detective investigating the death of Colonel Kraft von Stade, Riesling's lover who was killed by her. They must also evade major Walther Ostriker, the Under Director of the Center of German intelligence - who is trying to prevent that "magical bullet" to get into British hands, and finally by Dr. Eskne Fist - the Kaiser's personal dentist and leader of the German black market in the war - who was Riesling's lover long time ago - and who's determined to get her at any cost.
A historical fiction narrated from the third person point of view by many of the characters, I thought it was not well written. The author keeps changing points of view constantly from one character to another - sometimes even to minor characters who serve no purpose on the plot. It was confusing to read and tedious to follow. I would have narrowed the point of view only to the main characters and perhaps it would have been an easier and more enjoyable read.