The Quest for Anna Klein

Written by Thomas H. Cook
Review by Jessica Brockmole

I have to admit, I found this book slow-going at first.  But knowing the author and his credentials, I trusted that it would pick up.  And it did.

On the eve of the Second World War, a friend approaches wealthy (and naïve) Thomas Danforth and asks if he’d house a young woman named Anna Klein as she trains for a mysterious “Project.”  Danforth doesn’t know a thing about the “Project” or the people behind it, but, craving a little adventure, he agrees.  He never expects that he’ll be pulled into an international plot…or that he’ll fall in love with Anna. Once in Europe, the plan falls apart and Anna is arrested.  Danforth, who never seemed to have his eye on the bigger picture in the first place, decides to go in search of her rather than continue on with the “Project.”  He follows rumors across wartime Germanyand then Cold War Soviet Union, discovering along the way that Anna wasn’t quite what she seemed to be.  None of his associates were.  Danforth begins to wonder whether the adventure is worth the betrayals and loss.

The first half of the book, as Anna trained and Danforth quietly fell in love, dragged.  The “Project” was nebulous rather than tantalizing, the characters were fairly well-wrapped in their secrets, and Danforth was pretty self-absorbed.  Once Anna was arrested and the secrets began to leak, the story became interesting.  More clues were tossed the reader’s way and Danforth took on a more active role than mooning lover.  The ending was a little too neat and convenient for my liking, but the twists that brought the characters there were well done.  If you stick through the slow parts at the beginning, you’ll find this a satisfying mystery full of postwar intrigue and treachery.