Guest blogger Star Lawrence reviews THE SECOND OBJECTIVE (audiobook) by Mark Frost, as read by Erik Steele.
Don't let the World War II thing throw you off: THE SECOND OBJECTIVE is a detective thriller.
Only middle-aged guys taking a break from their Quicken programs are into World War II. So imagine my shock when I realized I had raked a WWII book, probably a yawner, off the audiobook shelves. With a shrug, I flopped in the first disk, thinking, hey, maybe it will be a little Grishamy or something. Within 10 minutes, I was hooked! And I am a woman and think Quicken sickens.
It’s after D-day, nearing Christmas of 1944. Hilter’s so-called commander, Otto Skorzeny (real guy), has assembled a bunch of German soldiers who speak OK English to go behind the lines of the Germans’ last offensive to cause trouble. Twenty of them will also go on to a “Second Objective,” thus the title.
Bernie Auster, a shrewd, young Brooklyn Boy from Park Slope, had gone back to Germany with his parents and gotten slapped into the army. Being almost a native English speaker, he is selected for the commando scheme and teams up with a cold-hearted SS sociopath, to thrash around the Ardennes and then go to Paris for the second assignment.
That assignment would change a lot.
A New York City detective and lieutenant named Earl Granite starts sniffing out irregularities as American troops engage German Panzer units in the area of the Bulge (in rivers). Battle of the Bulge! I have heard of that. Ah.
Soon, Granite and his Wisconsin-drawling assistant Oly cross paths with the duo of Bernie and the relentless SS mastermind and the game is on.
Steele is a very subtle reader, effortlessly sliding in and out of the different timbres and speech patterns of the characters. The SS man alone has several accents—his snooty Cambridge one when he talks to Bernie, an American Southern accent when he is an American officer in disguise, and so on.
Will Bernie survive? Will he face a firing squad for being a spy behind enemy lines? Will the hardboiled detective believe in his character and intentions? Will we? Should we? You know how to find out.