Sunday, April 17, 2016

The British Lion

The British Lion
Tony Schumacher
William Morrow
Harper Collins Publishers
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-06-239459-0
$ 25.99
450 pages

"Chess wouldn't work without pawns."

Are we just pawns in the game of life?  Like the game of chess are we just moved about or sacrificed in a scheme where we do not completely understand the rules or even the purpose?

In a world where Germany won the war during WWII and is currently occupying England, The British Lion offers readers the rare opportunity to judge the characters not by their national allegiances but by their actions. 

Ernst Koehler is a German SS officer working in Great Britain. Recently he lost his index finger and thumb.  Over the years he has spent much of his time away from his wife and daughter who reside in Germany.   He is thrilled that both of them are now visiting him. 

John Henry Rossett is in a hospital recovering from being shot while attempting to save a Jewish boy and getting him to safety in America.  Rossetti is known as the British Lion, the Fuhrer's favorite Brit.  However, Rossett does not enjoy this honor.  Germany is thrilled with the positive collaborative publicity of their former enemy.  Koehler chooses to not disclose how Rossett was really hurt so that he will be allowed to return to his life as a police officer.

These two form a team when Koehler's wife and daughter are kidnapped.  Their unusual partnership hinges on a  level of respect but not friendship.   Koehler values Rossett's expertise while John is sympathetic to Koehler's situation.. 

Koehler's family is being held by the Americans.  He is now being blackmailed.   The ransom for his family is a female Jewish scientist.   Sounds simple but this one scientist holds the key to the atomic bomb.  Whoever has the bomb, rules the world.

As with most plans, things don't work as smoothly as planned.  These complications greatly affect every aspect of this trade.  

What is amazing is this novel was my prejudice towards nationalities as to who were the protagonists/antagonists.  The role was constantly changing in my mind and fortunately each character had to be judged by their actions.  

The alternative view of a Europe possibly unified by the Nazis was fascinating to see a perspective which possibly was a dream and goal of many Germans at the time.

The British Lion is the sequel to Schumacher's previous novel, The Darkest Hour.  Reading this previous novel is not a requirement to understand this plot.  The story was almost hypnotic even though a little difficult at first due to the alternative history aspect.

The author, Tony Schumacher has written for both the Huffington Post, The Guardian and both the Liverpool and Manchester Confidential magazines.  He has also spent time as a performer and stand-up comedian. 

This book is for adults with violence, strong language, and requiring a sense of the history of World War II being essential to truly appreciating  what a unique and phenomenal novel has been created by the artistry of author, Tony Schumacher.

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