Tolkien, Simon. Orders from Berlin. Minotaur: St. Martin's. Dec 2012. 320p. ISBN 978-0-312-63214-4. $25.99. Fiction

As German bombs light up 1940 London by night, Deputy CI John Quaid and his assistant, William Trave, are called to a murder scene: the ex-head of Britain’s MI6 has been killed. Quaid decides the villain has to be the dead man’s son-in-law. Trave is not so sure. Why did the current deputy head of MI6, Alec Thorn, seek out his former boss? Thorn, for his part, hates his aide, Charles Seaforth, in part because the latter runs a double agent in Hitler’s inner circle. And in Berlin? Hitler, who would prefer to invade the Soviet Union, tasks Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Gestapo and the SD (the SS’s intelligence branch), with eliminating Churchill, the main man keeping England in the war. Their agent? A mole high up in MI6. VERDICT Tolkien’s fourth novel (after The King of Diamonds) is a well-told story with a few questionable features, among them the revelation of the assassin’s identity at mid-point, which lessens the suspense. Still, historical thriller fans will enjoy the sleuthing into the potential assassin’s motivations, the conflicts between characters, and the well-researched portrayal of war-torn London.

Library Journal, 137, no. 20 (December 1, 2012), 81.

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