Today on the blog I have the pleasure of reviewing James Remmer’s Out of Mecklenburg, an exciting work of WWII fiction split between Argentina and Germany that is packed full of spies, romance, and historical fact. If you’re a fan of heady, slow-burn reads this is sure to be one for you!
Title: Out of Mecklenburg: The Unwilling Spy
Author: James Remmer
Publisher: Troubadour Publishing
Publication Date: August 9, 2017
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Themes: WWII, Espionage, Spies, Romance, Survival
My Rating: 4/ 5
With Hitler at the height of his power, Carl von Menen, suave, wealthy and aristocratic, a high flying servant of the German Foreign Office, lives a duplicitous and dangerous life – he abhors the Nazis and wants to kill Hitler! But his vision of seeing a Nazi-free Germany shrinks to despair, when he is unexpectedly assigned to Argentina to keep a watchful eye on the emerging United Officers Group (GOU), a pro-Nazi/Fascist faction of military officers led by the aspiring Juan Domingo Peron.
In Buenos Aires, von Menen is sucked into a cauldron of treachery, deceit and revolution, heightened by his secret ideology, the far-reaching threat of the Gestapo and his clandestine dealings with the seemingly obliging Colonel Filipe Vidal, a man who emerges with a devious and sinister agenda: a plot to side-line Peron and seize power for himself. But Vidal needs arms and his coercive key to getting them is the life of the woman von Menen loves, the dazzling Maria Gomez.
Scheming his way back to Europe, von Menen finds Berlin in ruins, the Gestapo in overdrive, and a merciless Red Army charging towards Germany with only one thing in mind – vengeance! Gambling his own survival against certain execution, he contrives to convince a desperate and weakening Nazi hierarchy that Vidal has a pro-Nazi deal on offer that not even Peron can equal. Hitler finally gives his approval, but the scent of treachery is in the air and the Gestapo is watching. What follows is a bold and daring plan to rob the Reichsbank, a perilous journey by U-boat to the South Atlantic and a maelstrom of heart-stopping events back in Buenos Aires…
James Remmer explores the covert operations of WWII with reference to the early years of Peron and to real events of the war years. The book offers a unique perspective into WWII and will appeal to fans of historical fiction, especially those interested in undercover operations during the Second World War.
Coming in to this novel, I initially had mixed feelings as it’s a little bit slow to start. But, once you make it past the first few chapters the excitement takes off and doesn’t stop building – not even at the end, as a dramatic sequel has clearly been set up.
I think the single most endearing feature of this book was the fact that von Menen was anti-Nazi right from the get-go and managed to use his position to carry out small acts of resistance. I found myself growing more anxious and more paranoid with every chapter and every contact that was eliminated from von Menen’s network. But more than anything, I was drawn in by the fact that von Menen’s entire family was wrapped up in resisting the party despite many of his family members holding high ranking positions within RnD, the military, and the navy. It was a refreshing perspective after reading a string of books that focused on concentration camps, so naturally I was completely on board with the family’s attempts to stick it to the man.
The gold heist was hands down the highlight of the story as it was fast paced, humorous, and utterly gripping. I nearly died when the whole scheme was almost derailed by an SS officer ‘parking’, and Hans’ scrappy resourcefulness in a time when nearly everything is impossible to obtain. I mean, who else could obtain a spare car and petrol during the height of rationing and shortages?
The Argentine setting too, was absolutely enthralling, as it represented a melting pot of political activity and unrest that was both central to many nations during WWII while simultaneously being removed from the action. I detested Vidal as a character, but appreciated Remmer’s historical accuracy when it came to Ortiz, Peron, and the revolution of 1943. I am left hoping that the second instalment will focus on ODESSA and Ribbentrop’s network for smuggling of Nazi fugitives to Argentina.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. But, it would come with the warning that the front third is a little heavy on the character building, explication, and setting the stage for later action. Regardless, it’s well written, carefully developed, and sure to please those sticklers for detail that insist on accuracy with their espionage.
Many thanks to James Remmer and Troubadour Publishing for providing an advanced copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.