Jacobson, Douglas W. The Katyn Order. McBooks. May 2011. c.416p. ISBN 978-1-59013-572-3. $24.95. F
Jacobson’s second World War II novel (after the award-winning Night of Flames) offers two impressive historical thrillers in one. The first half, set during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, vividly portrays the near total destruction of Poland’s capital as the resistance fighters try vainly and at great cost to resist the German advance. Adam Nowak, an American of Polish birth, works as an assassin for the resistance movement in uneasy alliance with one of their couriers, Natalia Kowalski. With the end of the European war, the novel’s second half follows Adam and Natalia as the Red Army and the NKVD (a precursor to the Soviet KGB) tighten their control over Poland. In Kraków, Adam and Natalia are ordered by the British to find a copy of Stalin’s authorization of the execution of Polish officers in the Katyn Forest, a war crime falsely attributed by the Soviets to the Germans. With the brutal NKVD agent who carried out the massacre on their heels, the two must again risk their lives in an attempt to alter the fate of their nation. VERDICT Despite a few coincidences that strain credulity, this novel’s compelling authenticity and evocatively rendered detail will captivate history buffs and thriller fans alike.