Special Ops: Dead or Alive
November 1941, and most of Europe is in the grip of Nazi rule. In their latest Special Ops adventure, the three friends, Finn, Loki and Freya, are sent on a new, highly dangerous mission – to occupied France. Claude Chevalier, an expert in visual deception who has been working for the Special Operations Executive under the direct orders of Winston Churchill, has gone missing and taken two million French francs with him. Worse, he knows far too much about the locations of RAF airfields and which of them are merely deceptive decoys.
Finn, Loki and Freya are dropped into occupied France with clear instructions: find Claude and bring him back dead or alive. They have no idea where he is or what name he’s using but the likelihood is that he’s in Paris.
Based on various real-life SOE missions, Dead or Alive has the authentic feel of wartime France: the dangers, the cold, the semi-starvation, the bravery of many ordinary people and the treachery of others. Paris in November 1941 must have been a frightening city to live in, and Simpson brings out that living-on-the-edge-of-a-precipice feel of a city under brutal occupation.
My heart was in my mouth every time the three friends were questioned by suspicious German officers or tried to make radio contact with the SOE. Craig Simpson is brilliant at keeping up the tension as they try desperately to work out who can be trusted and who can’t. There are plenty of nasty surprises in store for Finn, Loki and Freya and their courage, cool-headedness and ingenuity will be tested to the utmost – and beyond.
This is exactly the sort of book to appeal to an 11-year-old child who loves a nail-biting adventure and is interested in how the French Resistance operated in World War 2. Highly recommended.