Saturday, February 14, 2009

Voices Under Berlin – T.H.E. Hill

©2008 CreateSpace

Sometimes you can meet with a serious laugh. Rarely does the copy on the back cover really do justice to the book within those covers. Authors and publishers are always good to find a blurb or quote that flatters the author or the book itself. And why not? The cover is there to do two things: hold the pages together, and convince readers to buy the book. Here’s what I found at the top of the back cover of Voices Under Berlin:

The 9539th T.C.U. does to the secret Cold War what the 4077th M.A.S.H. did to the Korean War.

Kevin is a linguist, but not just any linguist. Kevin is the linguist extraordinaire. He can hear between the lines as he listens to the tapped lines of the Soviets in Berlin of post-WWII Germany. He’s so good, in fact, that even his co-workers and superiors think he’s making this stuff up. His transcriptions and interpretations lead to numerous foiled operations in the Cold War Russian spy network. Blackie offers superb practical jokes (often at the expense of Lt. “Sheerluck” Sherlock, ABD), and Fast Eddie disbelieves most of the reports turned in by Kevin, but learns to report them anyway.

The story is filled with gullible inept officers, madcap antics by the enlisted men, and spy/counter-spy conversations that lead to disaster or triumph, depending on who listens to the tapes and who listens to Kevin.

Voices Under Berlin is written in such a way as to engage anyone who likes military fiction, spy stories, or comedy. The good guys don’t always win, but then they do, too. The one distraction—military alphabet-soup speak—is addressed by a glossary at the beginning of the book (rather than the end) with specific jargon, abbreviations, and initials listed and explained in alphabetical order for the convenience of the reader.

The novel bears a resemblance to a post-War memoir with photos peppered throughout to bring credibility to the story. I highly recommend this one for a few days of escape to a different time and exotic place. Five reading glasses.

—Benjamin Potter, February 13, 2009

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