My grateful thanks to Florence at Head of Zeus for inviting me to join the blog tour for David Gilman’s latest book, Night Flight to Paris. You can read my review below. Do check out the tour banner at the bottom of this post to see details of the other great book bloggers who have taken part in the tour and shared extracts from the books or guest posts by David Gilman.
About the Book
PARIS, 1943. The swastika flies from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Soldiers clad in field grey patrol the streets. Buildings have been renamed, books banned, art stolen and people disappeared. Amongst the missing is an Allied intelligence cell.
Gone to ground? Betrayed? Dead? Britain’s Special Operations Executive need to find out. They recruit ex-Parisian and Bletchley Park codebreaker Harry Mitchell to return to the city he fled two years ago.
Mitchell knows Occupied Paris – a city at war with itself. Informers, gangsters, collaborators and Resistance factions are as ready to slit each other’s throats as they are the Germans’. The occupiers themselves are no better: the Gestapo and the Abwehr – military intelligence – are locked in their own lethal battle for dominance. Mitchell knows the risks: a return to Paris not a mission – it’s a death sentence.
But he has good reason to put his life on the line: the wife and daughter he was forced to leave behind have fallen into the hands of the Gestapo and Michell will do whatever it takes to save them. But with disaster afflicting his mission from the outset, it will take all his ingenuity, all his courage, to even get into Paris… unaware that every step he takes towards the capital is a step closer to a trap well set and baited.
Format: Hardcover, ebook (496 pp.) Publisher: Head of Zeus
Published: 9th August 2018 Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller
Find Night Flight to Paris on Goodreads
An author writing a book set in World War 2 featuring the French Resistance is entering pretty crowded – or should I say occupied (sorry) – territory. There’s Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Kate Mosse’s Citadel, to name but two. Thankfully, in David Gilman’s skilful hands, the reader will find plenty that is original and compelling in Night Flight to Paris.
What I particularly admired was the way the author convincingly portrayed the constant state of jeopardy in which those working undercover in occupied France or as part of the Resistance lived on a daily basis and its emotional and psychological impact on them. Imagine a situation where a word or gesture out of place – even something as simple as the way you order your coffee – can mark you out as a stranger or enemy agent, bringing you to the attention of the authorities. In addition, a situation where informers are everywhere and it can be difficult – actually, almost impossible – to know who to trust. I loved the detail of the tradecraft necessary to operate undercover, introducing me to concepts such as duress codes.
The cruelty and ruthlessness of the German authorities towards enemy agents and members of the Resistance they capture is graphically displayed. But, in time of war, as the author shows, there is a degree of ruthlessness required from everyone involved. Uncomfortable, potentially life-changing decisions and actions need to be taken in which personal feelings may come into conflict with mission objectives. Mitchell, in particular, faces this dilemma on numerous occasions. ‘What if his feelings threatened to get in the way of everything that still needed to be done? He could not afford to lose focus. Lives depended on him seeing the operation through and being sufficiently detached to make quick decision.’ But how can you remain detached when it’s family members, people you care about or who have come to depend on you who will be affected by the decisions you make?
The author describes the complex, and at times, baffling hierarchies and different political and military groupings that exist within the Resistance and within the French and German authorities in the occupied territories. As one character explains: ‘There were a lot of people operating in Paris. Different groups, different political persuasions. Mix that in with the criminal element and you couldn’t tell who was betraying whom.’ The distrust and rivalry between the different groups, and in some cases the personal rivalry, will play an increasingly important part as the story unfolds.
Night Flight to Paris immerses the reader in a world where danger, suspicion and fear is a constant companion. It’s populated with characters whose lives the reader comes to care about deeply – and others that one is pleased to see meet a sticky end! With its rich mixture of atmospheric period detail, dramatic action scenes and compelling story line, Night Flight to Paris is a must-read for fans of historical fiction.
I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, Head of Zeus, in return for an honest and unbiased review.
In three words: Compelling, dramatic, immersive
Try something similar…Flight Before Dawn by Megan Easley-Walsh (read my review here)
About the Author
David Gilman enjoyed many careers – including fire-fighter, paratrooper and photographer – before turning to writing full time.
He is an award-winning author and screenwriter, and was shortlisted for the Wilbur Smith Writing Prize 2017.
Connect with David