As the clock ticks down to D-Day, the Allies are secretly in a state of panic. The greatest secret the Allies had left to win the war with has been stolen by one of the top Nazi spymasters, en route to the Fuhrer as they scramble to form a plan to reclaim it. In Germany’s final days of Nazi rule, could this be the lifeline they need to extend the conflict by one more bloody campaign of resistance, or will the Allies swoop in just in time to save millions of lives? The world hangs in a delicate balance in the heart-pounding World War Two Trilogy opener, Bodyguard of Deception by Samuel Marquis.
You could be forgiven for considering the whole thing an exercise in retreading exceptionally well-trod ground when measuring the book up to every other “kill Hitler” plot affair from the last 70 years, though you’d be underselling what Bodyguard has to offer by a wide margin. The premise might have been a bit tiring if it weren’t for just a slight edge of genre savvy that makes the read pop.
Marquis almost expects you to be someone who knows their way around a World War II plot and shifts his focus away from the usual tedious details to a strong, believable cast of characters caught up in the plot together. Few similar books can boast a sympathetic antagonist the likes of German military devout Erik, nor the down-to-earth perspectives of all-American Katherine. Put together with an intricate plot to follow and a commitment to realistic detail, there’s a lot going for the read.
That said, it’s still played very close to the usual kind of World War II alternative histories despite the fact Bodyguard does a lot to buck the usual, tiresome trends. A lot of the most recognizable tropes are front-loaded in the read. These motifs certainly drop off over time but its adherence to convention and refusal to buck every well-worn trend are certainly intentional, and for this, the book isn’t the most original concept.
There’s also a greater deal of complexity to the plot as perspectives shift here and there throughout the story, and it’s easy to get a bit lost with this as you begin asking “wait, who was that again?” It’s definitely not something someone used to historical fiction will mind, however more casual readers could find a few stumbling points throughout.
Readers tired of the usual Nazi-stopping action and intrigue might not enjoy this book as much as others might, as it’s still based on the old tried-and-tested recipes that have made the genre so popular, however it’s still a wonderfully nail-biting experience with good characters and solid intrigue. If those are the qualities that make a World War II thriller work for you, then Bodyguard of Deception might be exactly what you’re looking for in 2016.