The Third Reich’s obsession with the paranormal and occult make for some rich storytelling veins from which to mine some compelling prose. Many writers have tried, and as many succeeded as failed, in covering in fiction (or non-fiction) the known proclivities of Nazi Germany’s desire to probe the unknown and mysterious.
In Shadows In The Mist Brian Moreland crafts an accomplished debut; an action-adventure book, and supernaturally and horror-fused blend of historical fact with finest fictional embellishments to keep the reader turning pages . And it’s a fastidiously researched one at that. Following Jack ‘Grim Reaper’ Chambers’ dangerous mission behind enemy lines during World War II.
The book opens in the present day, with Jack’s grandson Sean charged with delivering his grandfather’s diary across the Atlantic ocean to Germany, and US military General Briggs. There are facts contained in the book that Jack wants to be addressed, driven by a desire to make things right in what he knows are his final days.
No sooner than Sean sets off and he’s pursued by a Rabbi Goldstein, who served with Jack Chambers during the war. Goldstein has other ideas as to how the diary might be used, and tries to persuade Sean that he’s making a mistake, to turn around and simply forget about his task. Alas, family ties, as well as the knowledge of his grandfather’s deep rooted feelings about the diary compel him to continue.
And then things start to get even more interesting. The action cuts to the German countryside in 1944, as Jack Chambers and his men are embarking upon a secret mission dropped in their lap. It’s voluntary, and has a nice bonus should they succeed, in that Chambers and his men get to go home. Ah, but would things ever work out so?
What follows is a high-octane tour of extreme danger and spooky situations. It’s soon clear something isn’t quite right out there, and Moreland’s imagination and desire to keep things mysterious yet enticing are well balanced and successful.
I felt that this was a book into which a lot of planning had gone, and crucially which was fairly well executed. I can see Moreland and a nice study wall tacked with a plethora of index cards noting plot and character developments. There’s also a passion to tell a story here, and be different in doing so. It’s by no means flawless, and at times some of the text felt a little rough, but the discipline to story and goals of novel creation as a whole kept things together nicely.
The supernatural touches in this book are nicely implemented. ┬áThere’s a mythos lingering here, between lines and chapters, and themes tied to some old superstitions with a flourish of the delightfully macabre. There’s an almost X-Files vibe to be garnered too from the melting pot of supernatural and Nazi mix, but in a balanced and non-derivative way.
Shadows in the Mist is a decent supernatural book indeed. Worth checking out for those who like a bit of a thinking to their action-horror kick. Moreland’s debut novel is a healthy sign of a writer who looks set to contribute well to our beloved genre; I enjoyed this book, and look forward to reading more of his work in future.