"They" say you can't judge a book by its' cover.
I sure as hell judged A KILL IN THE MORNING (2015) by Graeme Shimmin by its' cover when I first saw it on the bookstore shelf and that judgment was a positive one. What caught my eye was the evocative art that so wonderfully captured the essence and spirit of those classic vintage men's adventure magazines that I so dearly love. A guy with a sniper's rifle. A hot babe in a slinky outfit. A futuristic aircraft of some kind. A Nazi officer in red cross hairs and gun sight. Running Nazis. Yep, every element on this cover pushed my hot buttons and whispered to me: "buy me and read me sixty-year-old man, you will love me!"
You know what?
It was the truth.
To paraphrase Stefon on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, this book has everything: an alternate universe 1955 in which Nazi Germany, armed with nuclear weapons, controls continental Europe while waging a cold war against a likewise nuclear armed Great Britain, a world where Churchill died in 1941, Nazis, an unnamed British agent/assassin who has a taste for the good life and is described as "a blunt instrument", Nazis, two successive heads of MI6, both of which have last names starting with the letter "M", "Grand Slam" earthquake bombs, Nazis, "we have all the time in the world", Nazis, two sexy good girls, Kitty and Molly, two sexy bad girls the zaftig Mitzi twins, Nazis, name drops of both Ultima Thule and Hyperborea, Nazis, technologically advanced aircraft, Nazis, a "pre-title" raid on a Nazi concentration camp, Nazis, a flashback to a raid on a Nazi heavy water facility in Norway, gunfights, car chases, Nazis, an immense and incredibly powerful time machine, Nazis, time travel, our hero captured by the bad guy, a super-Nazi with a personal force field, and forced to listen to his mad plans for world domination, wild aerial dogfights, Nazis, an immense underground Nazi fortress stuffed to the gills with "Wunderwaffen" (wonder weapons), flying saucers, Israeli commandos, and finally, a divergent timeline. All this, and world war, too. Oh, and did I mention Nazis?
The clues as to what this book is really about are contained in the above paragraph. Astute thriller readers and movie fans will have no problem figuring out the identity of the hero of A KILL IN THE MORNING (hell, even the title is a clue). I don't want to spoil it for anyone who has yet to discover the pluperfect pulp pleasures contained within this debut novel by British novelist Shimmin. I'll just say that it's a brilliant, fiendishly simple and masterfully executed high concept:
***** **** Vs. The Nazis.
I loved every page of this book and I couldn't turn them fast enough. I've read a lot of good books so far this year but this is far and away the best one yet.
Please Mr. Shimmin, can we have another?