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The One Man by Andrew Gross – To be published September 2016.

The author comes highly recommended and with a very good pedigree: he’s co-authored 5 books with James Patterson and his own previous 9 books are all reviewed positively.

When this book arrived I was incredibly impressed with the presentation for a proof copy. It really looked the business. A quick flick through the pages offered up some quite complex mathematical equations and I wondered just what had been sent to me?

The book started very well, and within a few minutes had me gripped. Truthfully, I found it that rare beast, a page turner. It was a case of, “I’ll just read another couple of pages before I turn the light out.” There’s obviously a lot of in-depth research gone on here for a book of fiction and it shows.

However, about halfway into part 4 (there are only 4 parts) the author destroys the whole story with a series of events that I can only politely describe as “highly improbable”. I know that truth is often stranger than fiction, and I know that reading fiction we’re supposed to suspend our belief and just get immersed in the story, but frankly I found this beyond the pale. Sadly, it was a case of spoiling the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar.

The main story is set in Auschwitz. We have an interred Jewish professor who has information that could help the Allies develop the nuclear bomb and potentially shorten the war. However, his research papers have all been destroyed on his arrival. He passes what he thinks are his last days watching a young Jewish lad play chess. The lad is a chess genius and an unlikely friendship ensues.

The USA has a young Jewish intelligence officer who has fled Poland, and believing his family has been slaughtered by the Nazis, wants to do more for the Allies. This young officer is quite easily persuaded to return to Poland, enter Auschwitz, seek out the professor, extract him and get him back to the USA. He has a timetable of 72 hours and no way of keeping in touch with mission control. What could possibly go wrong?

Sorry, but I can only run to 2 1/2 anchors on this, which is a real shame as it had the makings of a far better novel. Hopefully, it may get revised before publication?