Synopses & Reviews
Thomas Danforth has lived a fortunate life. The son of a wealthy importer, he traveled the world in his youth, and now, in his twenties, he lives in New York City and runs the family business. It is 1939, and the world is on the brink of war, but Danforths life is untroubled, his future assured. Then, on a snowy evening walk along Gramercy Park, a friend poses a fateful question.
As it turns out, this friend has a dangerous idea that can change the world. Danforth is to provide a place where a “brilliant woman” can receive training in firearms and explosives. This is to be the beginning of an international plot carried out by the mysterious Anna Klein—a plot that will ensnare Danforth in more ways than one. When the plan goes wrong and Klein disappears, Danforths quest begins: it is a journey of ever-shifting alliances and betrayals that will lead him across a war-torn world in search of answers. Now in his ninety-first year, at the dawn of a troubled new era, he sits in luxury at the Century Club and tells his tale to the young man from Washington he has summoned, for reasons of his own, to hear it.
"Griner's second novel (after Collectors) is a gritty, unsentimental story of love and loyalty played out across Europe during the two World Wars. It begins with Kate Zweig, a nurse, working at a crumbling field hospital in Prussia with her doctor husband. Shortly, their hospital is destroyed by Russian soldiers during WWI, and after the pair are captured and tortured, a sympathetic Russian officer arranges for their covert escape into Germany. Jump to WWII London, where Claus, aka 'Charles Murphy,' an American filmmaker of Irish and German lineage, serves as a neighborhood warden while ostensibly working for the British Ministry of Information. In truth, he has been recruited as a spy for Britain. Or has he? Claus meets Kate in Hyde Park, and thereafter Griner knits together a multifarious plot that calls into question collaboration versus loyalty: to homeland, to humanity, to family and to lovers. Griner is unflinching in his depictions of battlefield atrocity (a conscious soldier with an exposed-brain injury appears on the first page), offering a sober grounding for the cerebral exploration of collaboration and betrayal. Fans of Graham Greene or Alan Furst will want to take a look. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Edgar-nominee Cook (The Last Talk with Lola Faye
, 2010, etc.) plays the spy game in this mystery adventure. Soon after 9/11, Paul Crane, a young think-tank researcher, interviews Thomas Danforth, an elderly New York City resident who believes he has information relevant to defending America against fanatics. Danforth wants the meeting because Crane wrote an article demanding a revenge-filled response to 9/11. Crane is skeptical, but Danforth unfolds a tale that begins in 1939, when he ran his father's import business. With the war imminent, Danforth was lured into an anti-Nazi conspiracy by his college friend, Robert Clayton. Other characters enter, including Ted Bannion, a disillusioned Spanish Civil War loyalist, and Anna Klein, a mysterious and beautiful young linguist. Captivated by Anna, Danforth accompanies her to Europe, where, with Bannion's help, she intends to organize Spanish Loyalists interned in France into an anti-Nazi force. That scheme fails. The three then decide Danforth will pose as an art dealer seeking Hitler's paintings. The plan is assassination, but the Gestapo intervenes. Bannion takes cyanide. Klein, by now the object of Danforth's passion, is captured. But because of his father's connections, Danforth is simply deported from Nazi Germany. The narrative regularly shifts from the interview to Danforth's adventures in the abattoir that was Europe in the 1940s, where he sought to learn Anna's fate. Clues hint Anna was a double or triple agent, and Danforth is eventually sent to the Soviet Union to determine her identity. There he's taken for a spy and sent to the gulag for 12 years. As the story unfolds, Danforth pushes and prods the callow Crane toward understanding the complexity of moral choices, the shadows that obscure love and loyalty and the perils of cause becoming obsession. Absent one minor point,
Cook's plot is as captivating as his characters. It's rendered in an often ear-pleasing literary style— "the sewer's most pernicious flotsam"— and laced with dozens of intriguing historical anecdotes. A knight errant, a labyrinth of deceit, a sure bestseller." --Kirkus Reviews
"Thomas Cook's work is elegant, philosophical, and literary. This book is to be treasured, and is bound to earn him new readers. Grade A" --Cleveland Plain Dealer
"The German Woman" spans the two world wars that defined the 20th century, and the hidden histories of two unforgettable characters whose love story will haunt readers' hearts and minds.
This riveting war story introduces us to the beautiful Kate Zweig, the English widow of a German surgeon, and Claus Murphy, an exiled American with German rootstwo lovers with complicated loyalties.
In 1918, Kate and her husband, Horst, are taken for spies by Russian soldiers and forced to flee their field hospital on the eastern front, barely escaping with their lives. Years later, in London during the Nazis V-1 reign of terror, Claus spends his days making propaganda films and his nights as a British spy, worn down by the war and his own many secrets. When Claus meets the intriguing Kate, he finds himself powerfully drawn to her, even after evidence surfaces that she might not be exactly who she seems. As the war hurtles to a violent end, Claus must decide where his own loyalties lie, whether he can make a difference in the warand what might be gained by taking a leap of faith with Kate.
On the eve of World War II, an international plot gone wrong leads a wealthy man on a quest that spans decades and continents, to the dawn of a troubled new century.
About the Author
PAUL GRINER is the author of the acclaimed novel Collectors
and the story collection Follow Me,
a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick. He was inspired to write The German Woman
by the true story of a team of filmmakers who were tried for treason just after we entered World War I, for making a film, Spirit of 76,
critical of the British, our allies. The questions this story provoked about patriotism and loyalty in wartime seemed to Griner to be particularly relevant today.