cover image The Torqued Man

The Torqued Man

Peter Mann. Harper, $26.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-307210-7

Debut novelist Mann’s colorful if drawn-out historical adventure, set in the last three years of the Third Reich, follows a reluctant (but not that reluctant) Nazi agent. Sonderführer Adrian de Groot, alias Johann Grotius, is charged with acting as “case officer” for the Irish revolutionary Proinnsias “Frank” Pike, currently being held prisoner in Spain. His mission is to groom the IRA fighter for life as a double agent ahead of a planned invasion of Ireland. Pike reawakens de Groot’s prewar literary aspirations, and the two become lovers before embarking on a daring mission to infiltrate a radio broadcast and sway it to Germany’s purposes. In a parallel story line, Pike is the Gaelic folk hero Finn McCool, a double agent and assassin at large “in the bowels of Teutonia,” cutting a murderous path through the SS, eventually setting his sights on Dr. Morell, Hitler’s personal physician. In this version, de Groot is Cú Chulainn, the “Torqued Man” of the title, a figure of redemption with “merchant’s blood but literature in his heart... a reluctant middleman for book-burners.” The narrative, though, is overlong and its length outstrips its considerable charm. Still, Mann proves adept at picking up on the emotional kernels at the heart of history. Agent: Susan Golomb, Writers House. (Jan.)