Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Hornet's Sting by Mark Ryan (review)

Title: The Hornet's Sting
Author: Mark Ryan
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 386
Genre: Biography
Dewey Decimal: B Sneum Rya 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60239-710-1
Cost: $0

The sting from this hornet of a book is slightly painful despite its redeeming qualities. The story follows Thomas Sneum, an average man from Denmark, who becomes a great spy and does great things for the anti-Nazi movement. There was plenty of excitement in his time undercover, under the covers, and even after he was exposed. Which means I'm grateful that Sneum gets his moment in the spotlight. He had some shining moments of bravery and intelligence and there's no doubt he helped keep England and the Allies ahead of the Germans.

I just wish the spotlight was a little better. And that is my biggest problem with this book. There are times where the action is missing and the story is boring enough you just want to skip ahead. Those missions where the harrowing experiences are detailed keep the reader on the edge of their seat but when the plot slows, it makes the reader want to sleep.

Despite the constant slow-downs in action, I actually learned a lot from the story. I never knew England had two different intelligence groups that worked against each other (in fact, those in England earned a lot of dirty looks while I was reading). I never knew Germany invaded Denmark "peacefully." And, although barely mentioned, I was not aware of much involvement of Norway or Sweden during the war.

In the end, it's a decent read. Certainly nothing that compares to James Bond like the cover implies. but I'd say it is more along the lines of Steven Segal. And if nothing else, you can learn how two men flew across the ocean and refueled the plane by themselves or how two men walked across the frozen water between Denmark and Sweden.

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