If you are looking for a fast-paced, action-oriented thriller, “In Satan’s Shadow” is for you. Set, basically, in Berlin in the 1940s, the plot is straightforward enough. But don’t let the fast pace fool you—John Anthony Miller’s novel has all the intrigue, suspense, and nerve-wracking elements that will keep you turning the pages.
Michael York is a British agent assigned to “duties” in the Nazi capital. The war’s outcome is not yet decided—although cracks are beginning to show that the Thousand Year Reich may not be realized (this time around) after all. And in York’s business, just who can you trust? In addition to trying to find out what the Nazis are up to, so that he can report to his superiors in London, York stumbles upon other issues that not only concern him, but seem to confuse him about just what is the extent of his mission.
Fiction, it is, of course, but Miller’s handling of this story is enhanced not only as he seems to have captured the sentiment, the atmosphere, the attitude, the sheer danger of Berlin at this time, but he freely uses real characters to infuse realism in this story—names of the Nazis, for instance, with whom we are familiar. In addition, his own fictional characters are realistic enough to give the story a credible ring. His knowledge of Berlin and the German language certainly enhance the flavor and the setting. Having spent some time in Berlin (after the War and after the Wall was built), I found his penchant for verisimilitude another of the author’s strong points. I could figuratively “taste” Berlin!
I am not sure spy thrillers are meant to be “enjoyed,” but this one certainly created a positive reading experience for me, as we careen around the twists and turns of the storyline and its characters. I highly recommend it.