Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hitler's Angel by William Osborne

Hitler's Angel is the story of two refugees who have managed to get to England and safety.   The girl, about 14, had come with her family, Jews from Vienna, able to escape Hitler's clutches when the Nazis entered Austria in 1938.  The boy, 15, escaped by getting a ride on one of the small ships carrying out the rescue mission at Dunkirk in 1940

Now it is 1941 and they have been asked by Admiral MacPherson of the *London Controlling Section, with Prime Minister Churchill's approval,  if they would be willing to go back to Germany and rescue a young girl who has the ability to bring down Hitler.  This mission has come about after Rudolf Hess, the second most powerful man in Nazi Germany, had parachuted into Scotland and was immediately arrested by the British.  The implication is that Hess gave information about this young girl.

The boy and girl, code named Otto and Leni, accept the mission and after two weeks of intense training, they parachute into Germany and begin their quest to find this mysterious child.  The girl is being help in a convent on an island in the Chiemsee in Bavaria.

Otto and Leni's trip from their landing to the island is not uneventful, but they nevertheless make it and find the girl, a nine year old named Angelika.  They even manage to escape almost undetected, because although they have followed what they were trained to do, they still left a trail of clues that become clear after the girl disappearance has been discovered.

Now, Hitler sets Reinhard Heydrich on their trail.  Heydrich was one of the cruelest, most ruthless men in the Third Reich, a Lieutenant General in the SS.  Heydrich pursues Otto, Leni and Angelika with a vengeance, eliminating anyone who gets in his way, with the help of Ludwig Straniak, a mystic and map dowsing specialist, sent personally by Hitler.

The pursuit of the three youngsters across Bavaria is an exciting, if sometime violent, adventure.  But who is Angelika and why is keeping her a secret so important to the Nazis?  And will Otto and Leni get Angelika into Britain and safety?  Is any place safe for this girl?

I came across Hitler's Angel in a review over at We Sat Down and was so intrigued by it, I immediately got a copy.  This debut novel by former Hollywood screenwriter William Osborne is action packed with thrilling nail-biting drama.  Sound like a movie - it perhaps could be one day.

Which doesn't mean this isn't a read-worthy novel.  Osborne has taken actual people and events and woven a sometimes feasible, sometimes not sp feasible story around them.  The story chapters alternate between Leni and Otto, Hitler, MacPherson and Heydrich, so the reader is privileged to all perspectives and there is never a dull moment.

I thought the characterization of Otto and Leni was excellent, that as inexperienced agents they would naturally makes mistakes, and they did.  And they are still idealistic, despite everything.  Both decide that it is wrong to let Angelika become a bargaining chip of war by the British, and agree to throw away the cyanide capsule MacPherson give them to give to Angelika to insure that she didn't end up back with the Nazis.  I did find that the implication of why Angelika was powerful enough to bring down Hitler was a bit slippery.  I would think of it and lose it immediately.  Perhaps because it was only speculative.

There is quite a bit of violence, some only to demonstrate the level of cruelty Heydrich is capable of, some as a result of being at war.  Hitler's Angel  has been compared to Robert Muchamore's Henderson's Boys series, which also has some rather violent parts to them, but my feeling is there is a level of depth lacking by comparison, perhaps making it feel too screenplayish.  But still definitely worth reading for those who like action and thrills.

Oh, yes, and there is bit of a romantic hint between Leni and Otto, which was rather nice.

Included at the end is a Historical Note detailing who was a fictional character and who came from real life.  And what is map dowsing, you might ask?  Simple if you have the gift all you do is how a pendulum over a map to locate what you are looking for.  And yes, the Nazis really did believe in things mystical and set up the Institute for Occult Warfare, headed by Straniak.

This book is recommended for readers age 13+
This book was purchased for my personal library.

This map of Bavaria, found at the beginning of Hitler's Angel, follows the routes Leni and Otto took for their mission.  All the Bavarian places named in the novel actually exist.

*I have never heard of the London Controlling Section before, but it was a secret department created in 1941 to coordinate military deception.  See a fuller description of the London Controlling Section on Wikipedia


  1. This sounds fascinating. You really do find THE best books.

    1. Hi Barbara, Yes, this book does have its moments and on the whole it was pretty good and it was certainly exciting.

  2. I agree with Barbara. Great review. Where do you find them? I honestly can't keep up and I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't visited here in a good few weeks simply because I can't keep up with everyone I'm following. But I'm back now and I see you've been very busy. You share a similar interest in books as myself which is great - you're like a reference library. For my next book I'll come back and check your stock so I know what to order. Thanks, Alex.

    1. Hi Suzy, oh, don't worry abut keeping up. Sometimes I have the same problem, especially when I am working on a difficult project. We do indeed have a similar interest in books. A reference library - what a compliment. I had hoped this blog would be seen as a reference source, among other things. Thank you.

  3. This sounds wonderful! I think this is a book I would really love. Otto and Leni take on a dangerous mission and I am happy to hear they are characters I will really like. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Jess, yes, you would probably like Otto and Leni, though I think the author was more partial to Leni myself. By the way, at the end of the book, we find out their real names.

  4. All very intriguing. Hope my library has it.

  5. Sounds like a great book and a great review (again). This is exactly the type of book I would have loved as a teen and still love today.