cover image Fox on the Rhine

Fox on the Rhine

Douglas Niles, Author, Michael Dobson, Author, Michael S. Dobson, Joint Author Forge $27.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-312-86894-9

The second half of WWII takes a decidedly different path in this speculative historical novel, which picks up the action in 1944 with Nazi Germany on the verge of defeat. The first historical twist is the assassination of Hitler by a group of his own generals, but when G ring is also killed and the generals' attempt to assume power fails, Himmler takes the reins and quickly negotiates a peace treaty with the Russians. The second twist is the miraculous recovery of Rommel, who survives a near-fatal wound in North Africa and returns to the European theater to set the Allies back on their heels. With the war reduced to a single front, the Nazis have time to rebuild their shattered air force, giving Rommel the advantage he needs to press forward and capture critical Allied oil reserves. As the Desert Fox races to initiate a second blitzkrieg, American forces move to head him off before he can get to Antwerp, setting up a climactic final battle. The first-time authors have drawn on their background in war games to bring the tactical details to life (Niles designed the video game for Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising), but as a novel this book has several notable problems. Characters are introduced in rapid succession, with points of view ranging from foot soldiers to fighter pilots to generals, but many of the perspectives seem only marginally necessary. Moreover, the fast-paced action slows considerably once Himmler takes over and Rommel recovers, and for all the political machinations, the outcome of the war remains somewhat conservatively imagined. These issues aside, Niles and Dobson have crafted a vividly realistic study of a memorable time. Agent, Elizabeth Pomada. (June)