Winter’s Bullet

Written by William Osborne
Review by Francis Lee

In Amsterdam in 1945 as the war is ending, Tygo, the son of a locksmith, is forced by the Germans to break into houses and steal valuables, notably a diamond called the ‘Red Queen’. He gets into a plot to ship top Nazi officials to safety in Argentina and at the same time to deliver a secret weapon that could destroy New York. He is constantly under threat from Krüger, his boss, who needs to find the Red Queen to buy passage out of Germany before the Allies close in, and also from the Resistance. As well as history, the story also encompasses adventure and some romance.

I enjoyed reading this book. There are a number of plot twists that make sense but are genuinely surprising. Tygo’s viewpoint allows us to understand his actions, so we feel we can understand his emotions and feelings. The historical background is convincing and well informed, including day-to-day details. It is a part of the war that is not much touched upon, which gives it added interest. I liked the way each tier of the German hierarchy is afraid of the next.

However, the romance seems out of place in the grim situation, and readers who enjoy the book may feel that it gets in the way of the action. In the first half of the book, Tygo has to talk his way out of difficult situations, and can easily be defeated physically, which makes him seem real. However, towards the end, he increasingly relies on absurd luck, and superhuman physical prowess and stamina.

I recommend it to readers who are interested in World War II alternate history, or spy and action novels. It is most suitable for young teenagers, as it contains passages of technical detail and needs you to know some military history.