The Swiss Courier – A Review

One of my little known secrets is that I was a history minor in college. I fell in love with studying European history my junior year and would have changed my major from English except for a two-year foreign language requirement I couldn’t fulfill and still graduate with my class.

Now that you know that little tidbit, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I enjoy historical novels. Some of my favorite books fit into that category—Gone with the Wind, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Count of Monte Cristo, Exodus.

Hence, when I had a chance to read The Swiss Courier by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey, I was happy to take a holiday from the norm and plunge into a World War II novel set in a location I knew little of—neutral Switzerland.

The Story. Germany is involved in research of a powerful weapon, one they believe will insure victory over the Allies. When a group of German officers attempts to assassinate Hitler, however, the secret police work overtime to ferret out traitors from within the ranks. One diligent Gestapo officer discovers that a scientist working on the ultimate weapon is a Jew—hence, in the twisted Nazi thinking, an enemy of the state.

As the Gestapo plans to take this scientist into custody, the freedom fighters within Germany work with the American Office of Strategic Affairs plan to smuggle him into the hands of the Allies. The success or failure of the plan lies on the shoulders of a young Swiss courier named Gabi.

Strengths. This was a delightful story because it had believable, interesting characters and a plot filled with intrigue. There was some necessary violence (it does take place in wartime!), but it was of the mildest sort.

I especially liked seeing the war from the viewpoint of a neutral country (though there were precious few of those, hence the name “World War”), especially one so close to Germany that the threat of invasion hung over the Swiss year after year.

The theme of the book was woven through the story naturally.

Weaknesses. In some places, I thought the historical data was too much—types and descriptions of weapons, airplanes, even some places seemed more detailed than necessary, and consequently a little distracting from the story. Also there was a plot point I’m sure was meant to be a surprise but in fact it was predictable, though I haven’t figured out why.

Recently agent Rachelle Gardner did a blog post on Foreshadowing vs Telegraphing. I’m not sure what elements tip a reader off rather than give a proper hint. Maybe there are no particular guidelines—one reader may be surprised and another saw the event coming from the first chapter. It may depend completely on the experience of the reader. Well, not completely. At any rate, I saw the twist coming. I was pleased with it—glad, even, that I was right, so it didn’t spoil the story, but neither did it surprise.

Recommendation. If you enjoy historical fiction, especially that set in the World War II era, I recommend you read this book. It will give you hours of reading pleasure.

Published in: on November 4, 2009 at 6:25 pm  Comments Off on The Swiss Courier – A Review  
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