A stellar read! Masterfully crafted and exceptionally well executed, the eloquent prose and rich descriptions easily carry the reader into a creatively imaginative world of pre-war Germany and the adventure and thrill to be discovered there. This contemporary author has created the best example of “show” not “tell” that I have seen in twenty years. (Okay, I am telling my age here.) You “see” the emotion and “feel” the tension from the words as well as develop a sense of time and place. It is not merely what the characters are doing, but how they live and act or react in their space that becomes apparent in the words.
I don’t usually open a book review with gushing lines of praise, but this one is truly exceptional. I found this book fascinating in many ways, but the inspiration for its development is particularly interesting. I don’t reprint book descriptions, but I want to take just a moment to tell you a little backstory. This is from the author’s own blog:
“In the fall of 1929 a young New York banker came to Berlin to study finance. The collapse of Wall Street convinced him to stay and pursue a doctorate in history. While Hitler rose to power the American became a favored guest of the old aristocracy, risked his life probing the most dangerous boroughs of the city, witnessed Communist street demonstrations and Nazi rallies, instigated a duel, and pursued the rescue of Jewish friends from under the eyes of the Gestapo. He went on to spy for his country.
That seeker of adventure was Leonard L. O’Bryon, my father. Inspired by his newspaper reports and private journals, Corridor of Darkness tells the story of dashing Ryan Lemmon, on assignment in Nazi Germany for the State Department. It is now 1938, and Ryan must discover his own dark side to counter the murder, treachery, and torture threatening a former girlfriend, and allow him to escape with a secret which could change the course of history.”
The author, Patrick O’Bryon, is a self-proclaimed Europhile who knows Germany, has lived there, studied and worked there. Former academic in the field of Germanic Studies, Princeton Ph.D., interpreter and community liaison with the US Army in Germany.
The passion with which he writes is influenced by all of the above and I believe that is what separates “Corridor of Darkness” from the typical, pre-war German espionage novel. Already with the Awesome Indies Achiever’s gold Seal of Excellence, this book is destined to become a Best Seller!
Now, on to the review:
I loved this book so very much that I was compelled to read it twice. The writing style had me enraptured from beginning to end. I was so taken by it that I wanted to study the techniques employed. I thoroughly enjoy a read that encourages me to think deeply on both the writing and the story. The author has a powerful and confident writing voice. The eloquent prose serves well to set the reader into another time and place. The 20th century historical value alone makes it a worthy read, but O’Bryon gives us so much more.
Breaking away from the overdone linear style of the tired traditional spy novel, O’Bryon employs the technique of analepsis, or flashbacks, remarkably well. I loved the way the first half of the book ebbed and flowed with rich, fully fleshed out stories inside of the story. The action was well paced. As the plot and subplots unfolded, the characters, as well as their motivations, became very clear and real to me in a pre-war German world that was beautiful, exciting and dangerous.
This book offers all of the elements of a great novel, intrigue, historical value, adventure, thrill, mystery, espionage, violence, romance, lust, and love. Ryan Lemmon is dashing, clever and daring. His nemesis is despicable. Moving from pre-war Germany to the atrocities of Nazi Germany that led to imminent war, O’Bryon revs up the pace as Lemmon races across the countryside using wit, charm, weapons, and muscle in an effort to save his friends and their families and get intelligence back to America. The pace change lends a sense of urgency that was well timed.
I would give “Corridor of Darkness” a much higher score than 5 stars were it possible, and highly recommend this book. This historical thriller will leave you breathless and wanting more. The author also sets up what is yet to come, so be sure to read the Epilogue, Afterword, and the Prologue to the much anticipated sequel, “Beacon of Vengeance”.