kirkus review

A gripping page-turner with an improbable plot involving wartime espionage


This World War I historical novel pivots between New York City and Germany as a police detective plays cat and mouse with a sinister physician.


The Army’s munitions storage facility on Black Tom Island has been blown up. Germans are suspected, and New York Police Department Detective Max Rothman is ordered to put together a bomb squad to get to the bottom of the incident and conduct espionage for as long as needed. He assembles the squad using Jung’s archetypes as a guide. This crack team goes up against the German spies’ machinations. In a subplot, the philandering Dr. Harold Schwartz, a secret German sympathizer and the head of the Public Health Service on Ellis Island, has gotten nurse Caitlin Ryan pregnant and must deal with that. Meanwhile, Rothman, a widower, falls in love with Maria Richter in a whirlwind courtship. Eventually—after many plot twists—Rothman and Maria decamp for Germany to find the son she had been forced to give up. There, they intersect with Schwartz, who plans to alert the Kaiser to the crown prince’s perfidy and thus prevent a coup. Schwartz winds up in cahoots with Maria’s son’s father, Stefan Zeller. In a very uneasy arrangement, all four sail back to New York on a fishing boat. The fun lies in seeing what will happen next. In this riveting tale, Gordon is a busy plot-meister. The chapters are short and punchy, and circumstances—and allegiances—change with dizzying speed.

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