cover image An Affair of Spies

An Affair of Spies

Ronald H. Balson. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-28246-0

Clichéd situations and underdeveloped characters mar this WWII historical from Balson (Defending Britta Stein). In 1943, Nathan Silverman, a German Jew and the son of a scientist who escaped to the U.S., enlists in the army. He’s assigned to a special intelligence unit, but his plans to fight alongside his comrades in Europe are derailed when he’s summoned to New York by Gen. Leslie Groves, the head of the Manhattan Project, who wants him for a special mission. Groves has learned that Günther Snyder, a physicist who worked with Silverman’s father at Berlin’s Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, may want to defect. Silverman reluctantly agrees to sneak into Germany, posing as a Nazi officer, both to help Snyder defect and to gain details about the Germans’ nuclear program. Given Silverman’s lack of scientific expertise, he’s accompanied by an American physicist, who happens to be an attractive woman, Allison Fisher, setting up a romantic subplot. Most readers will anticipate how the story plays out. This lacks the grit and sense of realism of many other espionage novels centered on the race to build the first atom bomb. (Sept.)