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#22: "Voices Under Berlin" by T.H.E. Hill

22) Voices Under Berlin by T.H.E. Hill

I had the unique pleasure of being part of an online writers' class last year on Writing the Novel Proposal. This author was one of my peers. He chose the POD route for publication, and I must say the resulting book is very well done. It's thrilling to see my online name in the acknowledgments, too.

That said, I still can look at the book in an unbiased manner. I have never read another novel like this; I don't read any spy novels or anything about the Cold War. Therefore, everything was fresh and fascinating to me. The story follows a group of American "tunnel rats" in Berlin in the 1950s. They've tapped the communist phone lines and listen in to reports of espionage, locations of the best whore houses around, and where to find the best fish and chips in London. The drama builds as it becomes apparent that the Russians have planted a "honey trap" with one of their female spies cozying up to one of the tunnel rats.

By far the strongest part of the book is the banter between the Americans and the Russians on the other side of the wire. Their voices are distinct and fun, and there were several points where I was laughing out loud. My husband was in the Navy, so I understand well how boring those Mids and Swings shifts can be, and how some guys are absolutely insane. The transcribed calls, even bare of emotion, have such strength and character. The research into this book is very detailed, but it doesn't bog it down; instead, it feels very authentic. The weakest area is the honey trap itself. It's too obvious who the woman must be. Even with that major plot point transparent, the dialog and practical jokes amongst the men are well worth the read. I was actually sad when the book ended and I had to say farewell to these characters.

The book is available on Amazon or at www.voicesunderberlin.com.

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