Warbird: new book by local author Mark Batey

Posted on 13th December 2022 | in Community

The looming Zeppelin emerging from the clouds puts you immediately into an uncertain world and, in a way, foreshadows the enormity of the oncoming war. As Klara Falke and other key protagonists are introduced, the novel throws you straight into the tensions, power struggles and politics within Germany in 1939 and highlights the mixed loyalties of country and state.

British historical context is seen through recruits at Bently Priory, headquarters of RAF Fighter Command. We learn of the crucial role of Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding, along with Robert Watson-Watt, in Britain’s defence.

This is an immensely readable book, and Klara Falke is sent by the German Secret Service to probe a network of unusual radio masts along the British coastline. She joins local Nazi sympathisers in the North East but soon finds there are other forces at work. The story is full of surprises and keeps the reader deep in plots and counter plots as the stakes change for Klara and investigation becomes sabotage. Local readers will enjoy much of the action in familiar locations of Amble, Acklington and Alnwick as well as Lynemouth, Blyth and Newcastle. Meanwhile MI5 are onto Klara’s trail.

The historical background is well researched and the attention to detail is built into the narrative with skill. I am a great fan of historical fiction because in the right hands you can learn a great deal. This book is no exception and I would put it alongside novels by CJ Sansom for Tudor England and Bernard Cornwell for Napoleonic wars; the characters are believable and you are absorbed into the world of the time. There were a few occasions where maybe too much extra detail was included but overall it did not detract from the story.

The “Afterword” stresses this is a work of fiction and complements the story with historic context, which traces the legacy of the Second World War right up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. When reading the novel in the light of current events I must admit this was never far from my mind.

Warbird is an absorbing thriller that allows you to face and engage with the uncertain world of the first year of the 1939-45 conflict. For anyone who likes historical fiction this would make a great Christmas gift. Order from the Accidental Bookshop in Alnwick: www.forumbookshop.com
Ian MacKarill

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