- Author: A.P. Martin
- Published: July 2016 by Troubador
- Category: Historical Fiction, WWII
Spring 1938: Great Britain is facing potentially lethal threats: the looming war with Germany; the fear that her Secret Service has been penetrated by Nazi agents and the existence of hundreds of British citizens, who are keen to pass information to her enemies.
Codename Lazarus is taken from a true story and set in pre World War II Britain and Germany. It’s John King’s last day of an eighteen month research stay in Heidelberg. Although he will be sorry to leave his friends, the threatening climate in Germany, the increase in Hitler’s dictatorship and the ensuing violence against Jews only disgusts and horrifies, somewhat neutralising the sadness at leaving.
The young SS officer and the rangy, fair-haired man looked equally shocked and baffled that things between them could have come to this. As the German picked himself tentatively from the floor, trying in vain to maintain what dignity he could, the Englishman was taken in the unforgiving grip of two SS soldiers. Briefly their eyes met, full of sadness and incomprehension, for they both knew instinctively that this would change everything.
Several years later, John King is a gifted academic with a Doctorate and a major interest in the Second Reich. He is approached by his erstwhile tutor, Professor Pym with an incredible proposition. If John agrees, his life will never be the same but his help would be invaluable to Britain in the fight against Germany.
John’s struggles with the constraints of his new role, and the position he finds himself in, are compelling and I enjoyed the danger, intrigue and resulting tension.
A very good story with a well thought through plot, which I found extremely interesting. The build up was slow and steady, most of the action takes place in the second half of the book. The author obviously has an incredible knowledge and huge enthusiasm for this period of history, and it shows. The re-creation of certain points, such as the rise of the Nazis and the growing persecution of the Jewish community in Germany, an impromptu execution, the Blitz and the evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk were written realistically and very well done. I liked the way Dunkirk was experienced from the perspective of Joachim Brandt, John King’s erstwhile friend. The feeling of time and place is apparent and the narrative gives an authentic sense of events.
However, I do feel that the narrative needs a little smoothing out, some of the dialogue, a couple of characters and situations were unconvincing, most notably John and Greta’s relationship. Also, I think there was scope for more development of John King’s character. Having said that all that, Codename Lazarus is a promising debut.
I chose to read and review Codename Lazarus for Rosie Amber’s book review team, based on a digital copy from the author.
About A.P. Martin
I was born and spent my entire working life in the North West of England, where I taught at school, college and university levels. I became Head of Department of Social Sciences at a University, specialising in the study of social inequality, social mobility and sport. During my academic career I published many sociological studies on these themes.
Since taking early retirement, I have really enjoyed immersing myself in reading and writing fiction. I feel that most historical fiction benefits from a connection to something that actually happened, so when I wrote my first book, Codename Lazarus, I took a little known true story and used it as a framework for an exciting thriller.
I am currently writing my second spy story, which also takes as its inspiration a fascinating, yet almost unknown episode from the Second World War.
For more information on the actual background to Codename Lazarus, please visit my website at www.apmartin.co.uk.