On the edge of your seat

Andrew Gross’s World War II thriller weaves fact into fiction and keeps suspense high.

The Parliament of Norway Building under Nazi occupation during the Second World War (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Parliament of Norway Building under Nazi occupation during the Second World War
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Sun Sentinel (Tribune News Service) - Wars generate myriad stories about heroism, resistance groups and intrigue. Some tales endure, while others fade because other wars and sagas take their place.
In The Saboteur, Andrew Gross returns to World War II for a thrilling tale about members of the Norwegian resistance who undertake a near-impossible mission to stop a Nazi plan to build an atomic bomb. To do this, they have to sabotage the heavy water production at a remote Norwegian factory.
Gross, who started his writing career as one of James Patterson’s co-authors before switching to his own high-concept thrillers, has found a niche in historical fiction set in World War II. Gross showed his affinity for his era in his gripping 2016 novel The One Man, set during the Holocaust, and keeps those high standards in The Saboteur. The One Man, Gross’s most recent novel, was based on the experience of his Polish father-inlaw, a Holocaust survivor. At the time Kirkus called the Auschwitz-set tale Gross’s “best work yet, with his heart and soul imprinted on every page.”
In this latest work, Gross also weaves fact into fiction, keeping the suspense high and the twists based on reality.
Gross makes us forget we already know the outcome of World War II by adding an anything-could-happen to his plot.
The Saboteur is Kurt Nordstrum.
He and his small band of resistance fighters aim to liberate Norway from the Nazis and the country’s dictator, Vidkun Quisling. The team learns Hitler wants to control the Norsk Hydro plant because it secretly produces “heavy water” – deuterium oxide – that would be used to make an atomic bomb. Getting to the plant to destroy the heavy water supply is no small feat – it is located on near unscalable cliffs above a deep gorge. Then there is the single suspension bridge and, to add to the danger, the plant is constantly under heavy guard. The last time the British Special Operations tried to reach the plant, 40 “elite” soldiers were killed. But the Norwegians won’t give up, despite the unforgiving terrain.
Gross showcases the team’s bravery without embellishing the facts and without the hi-tech weaponry or spycraft one would find in a James Bond or Tom Clancy novel. Instead, The Saboteur relies on the team’s insight and physical skills, such as world-class skiing and intelligence.
Gross also shows the emotional toll taken on these soldiers. Because his resistance activities have made him a wanted man, Kurt can’t visit his father because that would make the older man a target of the Nazis. Nor can Kurt afford to fall in love right now.
This Norwegian team’s adventures were the basis of the 1965 film The Heroes of Telemark, starring Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris. In many ways, Gross’s The Saboteur delivers an even more edge-of-the-seat thriller.
(c) 2018, Sun Sentinel. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.