Before the Storm: A Thrilling Historical Novel of Real Life Nazi Hunters

Written by James D. Shipman
Review by Bonnie DeMoss

1948. Sara Sturm works for the U.S. Department of Public Affairs in Berlin, Germany, as secretary to the head of the department. Despite dealing with blatant sexism and verbal abuse in the office, Sara is dedicated to her job and quick to respond to an act of anti-Jewish vandalism at a store in West Berlin.  While there, she meets Max Portnoy, a Holocaust survivor, and learns of his quest to find the Nazi nuclear scientist who used him as slave labor during the war.  She eventually sets out on a journey with Max and his brother to find Heinz Hoffman and bring him to justice.  But Hoffman proves elusive, and deception, danger, and betrayal meet the three at every turn.

This is an exciting novel full of secrets and lies, where the lines of good and evil are more blurred than ever.  We learn about Odessa, the organization actually helping the Nazis escape after the war, and their surprising connections throughout the world.  The escalation of the Cold War and various nuclear programs lies at the center of this novel, and Hoffman, a nuclear scientist, is an important piece of the puzzle.  The characters, good and evil, are all well written, with secrets that lurk beneath the surface.  The plot is compelling, with surprises that will shock the reader.  This is a fascinating look at the intrigue going on behind the scenes at the beginning of the Cold War.  Fans of Russian and US history and those interested in World War II novels will enjoy this captivating book.