The Man Who Said No!
by David Laws
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Pub Date 06 Sep 2017 | Archive Date 03 Jan 2018
Two men successfully gatecrash the closed conference at Munich as British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain is about to sign an agreement giving Adolf Hitler everything he wants in Czechoslovakia.
One of the men is an American radio correspondent aghast at Chamberlain’s gullibility at surrendering to Nazi demands. He’s determined to stop the deal by bursting into the conference with a telling protest.
As he makes a loud declaration to the assembled national leaders – Chamberlain, Daladier, Mussolini and Hitler - his Czech partner pulls a gun
Emma Drake, a history researcher at Cambridge, has never believed that her grandfather simply disappeared without a trace. The infamous Munich agreement was signed; Chamberlain returned home a short-lived hero; Hitler emerged all-powerful to wage his war and her grandfather vanished from the pages of history. The Munich police reportedly searched for him but found nothing.
For the family of Bradley C Wilkes, this appeared to be the end of the story. But on the 70th anniversary of Wilkes’s radio station, Emma is chosen to lead a conference to reassess the significance of the events in Munich.
Hungry for success, Emma can now reopen the mystery of her missing grandfather - but there are obstacles in her way: rebuffed by powerful relatives, beset by an arms dealing conspiracy and hit by an Intelligence “sting”, she’s almost won…until her trail takes her in an unexpected direction, to a forest 50 miles west of Auschwitz to trace partisan action against Hitler’s Final solution.
A Note From the Publisher
'David Laws takes us on a fascinating journey from 1938 Munich to the present day, with ghosts looming large. And if you thought an academic conference might be a dry affair, think again. There are plenty of twists in this thriller. And one is tempted to book a flight to Munich to take in the settings, old and new.' - Brian Izzard
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 12 members
This was a nicely done historical fiction novel which presented two stories. One of the stories dealt with a radio correspondent Bradley Wilkes, working before the start of World War 2, while the other covered his granddaughter's search for the how and why of Bradley's disappearance in the present day.
Knowing what Bradley witnessed, he was opposed to the signing of the appeasement clause by Chamberlain, Mussolini, Hitler and Daladier. He decides to try to warn Chamberlain and accompanied by his friend who pulls a gun, Bradley is arrested and never heard from again.
His granddaughter, Emma, an historian, sets upon a mission to try and track down detail of her grandfathers disappearance. Years later, Emma arrives in Munich leading a conference about the appeasement clause and is immediately intertwined in the covering up of an arms deal using the conference as its cover. She incurs the anger of many powerful people and we follow her on her journey to both foil the arms deal and find out about her grandfather.
Mr Laws does a nice job of keeping the two story lines interesting as he jumps from the past to the present where we get to know Bradley and Emma. Emma is an academic, an intrepid modern woman who will let nothing stand in her way. Her mother's boyfriend is her protector and he too, is pretty much set in his ways. In the beginning both he and Emma clash.She is brazen, smart, and a woman on his mission. He is there to make sure she comes out of this alive. Eventually, they form a great team and as they find out more and more about the going ons in Munich and do eventually find out what happened to Bradley.
Thank you to David Laws, Troubador, and NetGalle for providing a copy of this book.
Don't be put off by the cover
This tale of international intrigue is set both in the present day and the 1930 & 40s. David Laws has obviously done his research but I did find this book a little overlong.
However, this is an entertaining read and better than its cover implies with a excellent twist at the end.
Not my favourite read of 2017, but not a wasted one either.
I was given a copy of this book to review by the publisher and was not obligated to provide a positive review.
Hitler's Germany is my period in History I love to study. This book started out very well, and the story line was engaging in the beginning. The main characters seemed to be pretty well developed, and seemed very lifelike. I enjoyed the first half of the book, then it seemed to take a nose-dive. I don't know exactly what happened, but it just seemed to lose some steam after about the half-way point.
I don't know how you could fix this. It just seemed to become more unlikely as the story progressed. The main character just became more unreal, and it became more like a fairy tale, instead of a story that could have actually happened during the War. I did like the way the author tied in the Professor to the whole story. That was pretty good.
I was really looking forward to this book, being a bit of a history bore/buff and it did not disappoint at all.
Bradley C. Wilkes disappears in 1938 after attempting to stop Neville Chamberlain and his appeasement deal with Hitler, the story then moves to 2015 when his granddaughter Emma, who is a history researcher at Cambridge University is asked to arrange a conference in Munich on the subject of appeasement. Her father was the result of an affair Wilkes had, and further family relationships come forward to cause trouble at the conference.
Really liked the character of Roper, although I was a little confused about relationships with both Emma and then her mother. I thought initially he would be romantically interested in the mother, especially as they have a 'history' perhaps I am being ageist?
I did think the whole conference was too drawn out, seemed to go on for weeks, especially as there seemed to be so much happening outside the parameters of this.
Unfortunately I didn't like the character of Emma at all, couldn't empathise with her, some of how she spoke was very stilted 'you can stand me lunch' for example, I am assuming Emma is in her twenties and don't know anyone of that age who would talk like that. Also going on about her inheritance, whilst £10,000 is a nice amount of money, wouldn't last too long doing the trips Emma is supposed to have done.
One the whole an enjoyable book and would recommend.
I really enjoyed this book. Without giving away spoilers there is a subplot that runs along the main premise of the book and it is only at the end that everything makes sense! This would make a great film, if not a TV series and I really hope there will be more books featuring Emma Drake and/or Roper.