A gripping World War II thriller

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Pub Date 07 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 31 Jul 2022
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The new blockbuster thriller from Graham Hurley set against the final stages of the Second World War.

Confidant of Goebbels. Instrument of Stalin. What's the worst that could happen?

January 1945. Wherever you look on the map, the Thousand Year Reich is shrinking. Even Goebbels has run out of lies to sweeten the reckoning to come. An Allied victory is inevitable, but who will reap the spoils of war?

Two years ago, Werner Nehmann's war came to an abrupt end in Stalingrad. With the city in ruins, the remains of General Paulus' Sixth Army surrendered to the Soviets, and Nehmann was taken captive. But now he's riding on the back of one of Marshal Zhukov's T-34 tanks, heading home with a message for the man who consigned him to the Stalingrad Cauldron.

With the Red Army about to fall on Berlin, Stalin fears his sometime allies are conspiring to deny him his prize. He needs to speak to Goebbels – and who better to broker the contact than Nehmann, Goebbels' one-time confidant?

Having swapped the ruins of Stalingrad for the wreckage of Berlin, the influence of Goebbels for the machinations of Stalin, and Gulag rags for a Red Army uniform, Nehmann's war has taken a turn for the worse. The Germans have a word for it:


Katastrophe is part of the SPOILS OF WAR Collection, a thrilling, beguiling blend of fact and fiction born of some of the most tragic, suspenseful, and action-packed events of World War II. From the mind of highly acclaimed thriller author GRAHAM HURLEY, this blockbuster non-chronological collection allows the reader to explore Hurley's masterful storytelling in any order, with compelling recurring characters whose fragmented lives mirror the war that shattered the globe.

Reviewers on Katastrophe:

'A taut, detailed and compelling read' The Sun
'A penetrating, compelling, and skilfully vivid slice of historical fiction' LoveReading Expert Review
'An immaculately researched historical thriller... This series cannot be recommended too highly' Mike Ripley
'Inventive and thought provoking' Crime Time

Reviewers on Graham Hurley:

'Historical fiction of a high order' The Times
'Tense, absorbing and faultlessly plotted' Sunday Times
'Beautifully constructed... This is one of Hurley's finest' Daily Mail
'Hurley's capable and understated characterization makes his lead's story plausible and engaging' Publishers Weekly

The new blockbuster thriller from Graham Hurley set against the final stages of the Second World War.

Confidant of Goebbels. Instrument of Stalin. What's the worst that could happen?

January 1945...

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ISBN 9781838938390
PRICE $10.49 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

In the final months of World War II, plans are being made by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union to negotiate Nazi Germany's surrender.
Werner Nehmann, a journalist at the Promi - the Ministry of Propaganda - and a close confidant of Joseph Goebbels has spent 2 years in Soviet Gulag camps after his capture at the battle of Stalingrad. Now he is on his way back to Berlin with a message for Goebbels as Josef Stalin endeavours to discover if his Western Allies are conspiring against him to deny a Soviet victory in Berlin.

Also headed back to Germany is Willi Schultz, an officer with the Abwehr - the German military-intelligence service - who was also captured at Stalingrad. Shcultz spent two years in Moscow and was tortured by the NKVD, Russia's secret police. Now he has been brought before Stalin who gives him a letter which he is to take to Heinrich Himmler, one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany. Stalin wants to know if there can be a return to the non aggression pact between Russia and Germany which occurred prior to the German invasion of Poland in 1939 which directly led to outbreak of the Second World War. The Soviet leader believes that the USA and Britain may be planning to do a deal with the Nazis which would lead to German surrender to the Western Allies with Germany able to free up armies to fight the Red Army on the Eastern Front.

Meanwhile, Tam Moncrieff is working for M15 and is sent to Switzerland where American and British generals have a secret meeting with a German general to broker the surrender of German forces in Italy.

This is the seventh book in the Spoils of War series and the author Graham Hurley has produced a masterful blend of thrilling fiction and historical fact as the World War II draws to an end.

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I have not read any previous spoils of war books so I don’t know if there are recurring characters but as a stand alone book I had no problem investing in the story and it’s plethora of characters both real and fictional, it’s a really good tale of Machiavellian machinations during the latter part of WW2, I would heartily recommend

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I’d never before read anything by English author Graham Hurley. But, based on his newest novel, “Katastrophe,” I’m certain I soon will be reading his other works.

“Katastrophe” is a very well-written tale of espionage and suspense set in Russia, Germany, and England during the closing months of WWII. It features three well-drawn characters: an English intelligence officer (MI5), a German military intelligence officer (Abwehr), and a Soviet Georgian who once served as a writer of propaganda for Joseph Goebbels. Through the eyes of these three agents—each sent on a mission of high importance by Churchill, Stalin, and Goebbels—we experience Germany’s defeat and what it was like to be in Berlin, London, and even Joseph Stalin’s dacha outside Moscow as the Allied powers--not to mention various Nazi leaders-- jockeyed for position in the coming post-war world. In other words, “Katastrophe” is as much a story of the beginnings of the Cold War as it is of the end of WWII.

Mr. Hurley is a popular and prolific English novelist. His prose is a pleasure, well-constructed, and often dryly humorous, or at least subtle, reminding me a little of works by John Le Carre and/or Graham Greene. I especially enjoyed the scenes involving Churchill, Stalin, and Goebbels and thought Mr. Hurley was quite successful at giving readers a good idea of who these men were. His settings are brilliantly drawn and highly varied, invoking the sights, sounds, and smells of, among other places, a Soviet gulag, Berlin’s bomb shelters and ruined streets and ministries, and even a rather odd celebration amongst intelligence officers inside the Tower of London. And he injects a goodly amount of history into his story, including explanations as to how and why the Nazis came to power and of the Allied pre-war failures that enabled WWII.

There were times when I found “Katastrophe” somewhat long and attenuated—even convoluted—and myself struggling to remember who’s who and how their stories fit together. Part of the problem, for me, may have been that this is the fifth book in Mr. Hurley’s “Spoils of War” series and that I had not read any of the previous works. Nevertheless, by the end of the novel, all was made clear and I had a good understanding of all that had happened.

My thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with an electronic ARC. The foregoing is my independent opinion.

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The dying phases of WW2 isn't very often explored in novels and if they are, very few show the desperate state of the people caught up and the grubby divvying up by the victors. Whilst engaged in the process of war the allies had a focus, namely to overcome through cooperation, what becomes evident is the mistrust of each other when it comes peace. Katastrophe is a gripping novel which shows the various perspectives of those tasked with trying to secure a peace and if that's not possible, then just staying alive. With the current war in Ukraine, novels such as this cannot help but draw parallels between now and back in WW2. The carving up of the spoils of war, both WW1 and WW2 have been the very seed of many wars since.
Gritty, tough and captivating is how I would describe Katastrophe, to that I would add political intrigue as well.

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Full of historical events, energy, and action.

Had a hard time keeping up with character transition in the beginning, but once I got involved in the story it was easier.

Enjoyable read


Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for granting me an advance copy in return for my honest opinion.

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At the end of World War II with the espionage services of UK, USA, Russia and Germany maneuvering for the best advantage when peace arrives, each one featuring a complex, well-crafted and believable character. The detail of events and the history is fascinating. Interesting to the very end.

One minor criticism is the abrupt switching of characters, making it somewhat difficult to follow at times. puzzling to follow at times. This might be due to the ePub format of the review copy received

Highly recommended.

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This is a tough read because the author describes in vivid detail a Soviet POW camp where Nehmann is kept and is forced to work incessantly. I had to stop reading to calm my stomach. I began again and the story went to London with Churchill and a plan to win the war, but to keep an eye on Stalin. The description of Stalin (character, not physical) was also vivid and for my own sanity, I had to stop reading.
I'm a pacifist and this was a tough read. I would still recommend it for anyone with less sensitivity.

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As an avid reader of this genre, I would place Mr. Hurley in the same category as Alan Furst. Mr. Hurley has well-developed characters, a strong sense of time and place, and interesting plotlines. Many WW II novels are trite and have commonplace plotlines with a high body count. Mr. Hurley attracts with excellent writing and a very interesting story that, though fiction, is probably very close to the truth. Highly Recommended.......

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Perhaps the final volume in The Spoils of War series sees almost all the cast of the previous novels assembled in the race to capture Berlin and end WW2. Present on the allied side are old friends, Tam Moncrieff and Ursala Barton, while on the German side there are Werner Nehmann and Willi Schultz, resurrected from the carnage of Stalingrad and made offers they cannot refuse by their new Russian masters. There is a supporting cast of characters also from previous novels in the series, as well as cameos from real life participants, a tired Churchill, scheming Stalin, sinister Kim Philby and Nehmann’s old nemesis, Joseph Goebbels.

What is at stake is not the end of the war, Germany has clearly lost, but the advantage each side can carve out for themselves in a post-war world. After Yalta, Stalin does not trust his American and British allies. Defeated Germans plot for survival, and in the meantime, the brutal violence of war continues.

This is not the best of the novels in the series, but it is still very good. It is perhaps disappointing that the fall of Berlin is almost an afterthought following the big build up throughout the narrative. And there are times when there appear to be almost too many references to events and characters in the previous novels. However, I did enjoy it a lot, especially as a conclusion to the series, and at times with its parallels to current events in Ukraine and wider Europe.

Enough of the cast too, survive war’s end to carve out new roles for themselves in the new world order.

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Katastrophe, a German word that tries but cannot contain the misery, death, horror, destruction, and depravity of WWII that echos and haunts the pages of this book and the world itself more than seven decades later. Hurley weaves tales of an interesting group of competing intelligence operatives caught in the web and tug of war of world power from London to Kolyma to give us a view of the struggle to tear away global power from the dying corpse of WWII.

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Graham Hurley is new author to me but he is, I find, a prolific acclaimed writer. His latest novel Katastrophe about the last months of war in Europe, and the advance of Russian forces on Germany resonates with the current situation in Ukraine on Europe’s borders.

German forces are on the retreat on all fronts, Hitler is a broken but still dangerous man, and the Allies are vying for territory. It is not surprising that many German politicians, senior Army officials and even Hitler’s closest colleagues are negotiating with the Allies to save their bacon (or their bratwurst!). Stalin is determined to reap the spoils of war with a land grab well into Europe. However, he is suspicious that his so-called Allies are looking to deny him his major prize. Even Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda guru, is finding it difficult to spread more lies. However, Goebbels still exerts a huge influence on Hitler – a fact well recognised by Stalin.

Stalin is anxious to contact Goebbels so that he can influence the outcome of the Soviets’ progress into Germany and beyond. But how to contact Goebbels? Werner Nehmann was Goebbel’s righthand man in Berlin as a prolific copywriter and advisor but finds himself on the front line in Stalingrad. The Germans surrender to the Soviets and Nehmann is captured. There follows a gritty account of his time in various Gulags. So when Stalin decides to send Nehmann back to Goebbels as an envoy., he jumps at the opportunity. The path back to Berlin is littered with problems and sacrifices.

Meanwhile, Churchill is trying to manipulate the outcome but his influence is failing and the Americans are dominating the strategy. Of course, Churchill is a master tactician and his spies led by Ursula Barton are sent to Switzerland to observe secret peace talks. Can they somehow manipulate the outcome of the talks? Unfortunately, there is in-fighting in the British Spy services (seemingly led by one Kim Philby) with a widespread belief that there is a mole. Guess who?

All these strands are brought together in this gripping novel. The characters are rich and the locations are hauntingly described. The horrors of war are in your face, and unforgettable. Although we know the outcome of the war, it is intriguing to discover the negotiations and tactics employed by the Allies. Back home Barton is intrigued by Philby’s role.

In the novel, after the war has ended Barton is discovered dead in her digs. Suicide is the verdict but police will not investigate a neighbour’s report that she heard voices in Barton’s room around the time of her death! Intriguing!!

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The last throws of WW2 .The ruined chaos of the grandiose idea of The Third Reich, a broken people by their own hand. Graham Hurley crafts a tale of four interlocking persons two, Ursula Barton and Tam Moncrieff from M.I.5 and Werner Nehman and Willi Shultz plying their various trade in Germany.

Message arrives at M.I.5 that Wolff in Italy wants to meet to discuss a surrender behind the back of Hitler and his cronies. Nehman and Shultz meet in Stalingrad where they are both taken prisoner by the Red Army and they are split up only to meet again as war ends.

Moncrieff travels to Switzerland to explore the possibilities of the message received but is followed with every step. Someone wants to sabotage his endeavour . Real danger exists with a trail of murder from unknown assassins . Moncrieff meets with Shultz having meet him previously before the war and realises his Russian connection.

Great story that has pace and intrigue with an insight into the war ending and the struggle for the spoils of war .
Read many of Graham Hurley novels and enjoy his writing ,this certainly didn't disappoint.

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Katastrophe Graham Hurley

4 stars

An absorbing account of the end of World War 2

I have read a couple of Graham Hurley’s books and enjoyed his writing style. The subject matter appealed to me as I have an interest in history and in particular the end of the 2nd World War. I had no idea that this was the latest book in a series so all the fictitious characters were totally new to me but I found the way the author combines truth with fiction fascinating.

Everyone knows the war is ending and that Germany has lost but how are the spoils of war going to be divided up? Even in those days the Russians, the British, the Americans and many high-ranking Germans are desperate to gain the best advantage they can from the situation.

The two main characters, Werner Nehmann, a Georgian German who was a journalist at the Minister of Propaganda and a close confidant of Joseph Goebbels and Willi Schulz, an officer with the German military intelligence have both been imprisoned by the Russians and suffered excruciating torture.

However Stalin now wants to use both these men to use their German connections, Nehman with Goebbels and Schulz with Himmler to discover what the German plans are and try to ensure that he becomes the dominant leader in Berlin.

Meanwhile an MI5 officer, Tam Moncrieff is despatched to Switzerland where one of the German commanders General Karl Wolff is trying to surrender to the Americans.

This book is full of so many characters that sometimes it is difficult to follow exactly what is happening where but I found the whole subject matter so interesting as we learn more about the real life people such as Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt and how they are intriguing and plotting to gain the most advantage. Obviously I was aware of a lot of the characters involved but the fictitious ones are so cleverly interwoven into the story that it brought home to me very clearly how things were for not only the main protagonists but for the ordinary people caught up in this terrible time.

The only slight criticism that I have is that sometimes there were just so many characters involved that I lost track of what was actually happening from time to time but I suspect that may be because I have not read any of the other books in this series.

If you are at all interested in the way World War 2 ended I would heartily recommend this book.

Karen Deborah

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“Katastrophe” is a gripping story of WW II taking a deeper look into both Germany and the Soviet Union. The story at times seemed a bit ponderous but overall it was enjoyable and opened new windows into my better understanding those times that i know from personal experience. Propaganda and twisting the story as well as out right lies were evident.

There was lots of intrigue and ups and downs in the story, which is born out by history of the period. I would definitely recommend a read of this novel

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“Wars..are so easy to start. And after that..they demand a constant surrender. Katastrophe indeed.”
This gem about World War II, from the perspective of a European point of view delves into espionage, national intelligence, traitors and spies. Topics of German and Russian refugees, prisoners, Stalingrad, rebuilding as it’s all being torn down and torture all make an appearance. Heavy hitters Stalin, Giebbels, Himmler, Wolff & Hitler are represented as well, and everyone’s looking out for themselves.

The main characters who drive the story are varied, from a former German intelligence enforcer, Goebbels’ propaganda and speech writer for Hitler and a government intelligence agent, all with connections to each other personally and professionally. You learn that you could trust no one in the ‘despairing resignation’ of doing what you had to do to survive.

Katastrophe is cleverly written, heady and surprisingly accurate for a historical fiction novel. It even has messages we should be heeding today. “..1939, and everything that followed, need never have happened. Not if we’d been listening properly.”

This is not your slow, easy, beach read, so saddle up when you begin. I had to read in increments just so I could process the characters, code names, events and the plot current as I combined it with WWII history, but it was in a word, magnificent. True WWII history buffs, this story is for you.

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A complex tale of the final days of WW11 with two German prisoners captured at Stalingrad eventually sent back to Germany seemingly on a mission to explore the chances of peace by Stalin. A similar scenario with a British agent sent to Switzerland to investigate a meeting by two allied generals with a senior SS officer again with a possible surrender of forces in Italy. At times graphically violent with scenes of torture and slave labour the clever use of historical figures on alll sides melds seamlessly into the narrative. As this is the latest in a series it would help to know a little of the individuals previous history but as a stand-alone story it still works. An impressive serious work.

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A terrific blockbuster of a thriller, set in the final stages of WW2. Time is running out for the Third Reich, their end seems ineviable but how will Europe be carved up between the victors. If you are fan of of the genre, of spy thrillers, cold war espionage, you will love this. Superbly mixing fact with fiction Graham Hurley lures you in the to where lies the power in the final days of war. It is the first time that I have read anything by the author, but I will seek out other books by him.
The book was superb, I'm looking forward to what must be the inevitable streamed mini series.

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This is my first novel by Graham Hurley and I enjoyed his sophisticated writing style. The story, unbeknown to me, is the conclusion of a series. A testament to his writing, it stands alone very well, creating a believable blend of fiction and historical characters, as WWII comes to its conclusion.

I was drawn into each of the four main characters’ stories, how they were woven into historical events and intertwined with the titans of WWII: Stalin, Churchill, Goebbels, Himmler and interestingly, Kim Philby.

His vivid descriptions of the various locations, the lapping of a Swiss lake, the taste of the air in crumbling Berlin, to mention but two, were excellent and created wonderfully detailed images in my mind

The end came a little too quickly for me but on reflection, has left me pondering how the next steps of the characters’ lives might be taken…..

I’ll be coming back to this author

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History is best told through its effect on the lives of individuals and that is what this makes this a gripping read. Europe is facing Katastrophe as the Nazi regime falls apart. Stalin is not the only one deviously negotiating for extra territory. We are entertained to meetings with world leaders and renowned historical figures which show remarkable research. There is tragedy too for several of the individuals in the book. A source of interest are the references to Kim Philby who would later turn out to be a traitor. The only unfortunate and inaccurate part is the frequent references to the English as the nation at war when it was British. I recommend the book.

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A well written and crafted story. Many twist and turns that will keep you guessing. I enjoyed the historical figures that play a part in this book. The store is the last few months of WW2 and how so Germans are just trying to survive the last few days. I was a little disappointed in the ending, but that might be because I read a great deal of non-fiction on WW2. I will still recommend this book and look forward to further books from this author.

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WWII books are widely available these days, both in novel form and as recent past history books. However, this novel provides a different slant to many fictionalized tales of the time, with German propagandists starting out as prisoners in Soviet Russia, and then being freed to give the USSR an edge on winning the hard fought war against the Germans. It was an intriguing way to see the war fought, and the high price paid by so very many.

Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of this ebook to read and reviews; all opinions are my own.

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By Graham Hurley

Another World War II novel. Filled with characters representing the whole gamut of participants in the European war, some real, some fiction. The author changes perspective from chapter to chapter to give the reader the war from multiple viewpoints as the it winds down. We see Germans, both soldiers and civilians, who have been captured, tortured and sent to gulags when the tide of war has turned in favor of Russia, only to be returned to Germany to further Stalin's agenda. We see Goebbels and Himmler jockeying for position as the Reich goes down in flames. We see members of Britain's MI5 and MI6 as they try to "stay in the game" being taken over by the Russians and the Americans. We see the various spies and counterspies interacting across Europe.

The writing here is good; the story might have been better with fewer characters. In the interest of generating back-story, the book became somewhat hard to follow. And in the end, I couldn't quite grasp what it was all about – war is hell? there are no good guys and bad guys? we are all responsible? God is the final resort? The author is ambitious and I look forward to his next book.

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January, 1945: The war in Europe is in its death throes. The allies are advancing on Berlin and German territory is shrinking by the day. Even Goebbels, the master of propaganda, can no longer hide the fact that Hitler's dream of the Thousand Year Reich is now in tatters.

As the Allies try to out manoeuvre each other with powerplays to achieve a peace that gets them the pick of the spoils of war, Stalin is out to stake his claim to what he feels is his by right. At the centre of his scheming are two men who thought their lives would come to an end in the rubble of Stalingrad... two men who have each spent the last two years trying separately to survive as prisoners of war in Russian hands.

Journalist Werner Nehmann has been pulled from the horror of the gulags to be sent back to Germany with a message from Stalin for his former boss Goebbels. What he doesn't know is that his old friend, German military intelligence officer Willi Schultz, who barely survived interrogation at the hands of the NKVD in Moscow, is also being sent back to Germany on a mission for Stalin - with a letter for Heimlich Himmler. Meanwhile, MI5 agent Tam Moncrieff has been set a task by his spymasters to try to discover what exactly is going on between British and American agents and a German General in Switzerland, as they try to put into action their own secret plans to gain an edge in the fall of Nazi Germany. Are they each heading for Katastrophe?

I first came across the Spoils of War books from Graham Hurley last year when I read the spectacular Kyiv, about Operation Barbarossa and the siege of Kyiv in 1941. Impressed with the way Hurley immersed me right into the compelling history of World War II, bringing to life the complex political and military events of the time through the use of excellent characterisation, and throwing in a good dollop of delicious spy shenanigans, I couldn't wait to read more.

The latest book in the series, Katastrophe, takes you into the fascinating realms of a different period of World War II - the months leading up to the surrender of Nazi Germany. The scale of this book is immense, and covers a lot of ground considering the timescale it focuses on is rather brief, starting at is does in January 1945 and ending around VE Day in May of the same year. The story follows the adventures of three main characters who will be familiar to fans of this series, Nehmann, Schultz and Moncrieff, as they go about their undercover exploits, and through them we get an intriguing glimpse of the lay of the land in a number of European locations - most importantly in Stalin's Russia, and in crumbling Nazi Germany.

I have read a little about the happenings of this time, when the Allies were vying for position, and more than one significant Nazi heavy-weight was making a play to ensure that they would survive the fall of the Third Reich - but I have never read anything that lays everything out in such an engaging way as this, turning the complicated history into a cracking page-turner of an affair that keeps you gripped throughout. Hurley touches on the significant details of the political and military events that dictated how history played out through the use of characters from the pages of the history books, and those of his own invention, and blends fact and fiction to fashion a gripping story of danger and double dealing that keeps you on the edge of your seat. His skill in concentrating on the people involved and tying you to their fate works so well, whilst conveying a wealth of history at the same time.

To go into all the themes that Hurley packs into this book would be impossible here because there are so many, but the insight he displays into how these events influence what follows once Germany falls is impressive. I was really struck by the way he explores the interplay between Britain, America and Russia, especially the fracturing of relationships, the misconceptions, and the naked ambition of Stalin that inevitably leads on to the start of the Cold War. There is a rich seam to be mined in terms of the world of espionage, and what the secret services might look like post-war, that is very thought provoking too - made extra gritty by Moncrieff's continued sparring with the yet unmasked traitor Kim Philby. I also have to say that I have rarely seen the black art and chilling effectiveness of propaganda so thoroughly laid bare in a work of fiction.

This book has everything you want from historical fiction. It's beautifully constructed, tense and completely absorbing, with the kind of characters that sweep you along and make history a living, breathing thing. As someone obsessed with Cold War fiction, I adored the way Hurley plants the seeds for what comes post-war, and I very much hope he takes up his pen to delve into where history goes next. In any case, wherever his writing adventures take him I will certainly be along for the ride.

This book can be read as a stand-alone, but is so much better if you have read other books from the Spoils of War series - I am gradually working my way through them all and highly recommend you do the same if this period of history is your bag! I promise it will send you down a wealth of rabbit holes!

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Katastrophe, the latest book in the author’s ‘Spoils of War’ series, is set in the final months of the Second World War. There’s a real sense of finality about the book as we witness the ruin of people and places. The terrible and lasting impact of war – physical and psychological – is reflected in the experiences of the four main characters – British MI5 operatives, Tam Moncrieff and Ursula Barton, journalist and propagandist, Werner Nehmann, and German intelligence officer, Wilhelm Schultz – some of whom make return appearances from the author’s previous two novels, Last Flight to Stalingrad and Kyiv.

There are some intense, dark and harrowing scenes involving Nehmann and Schultz, both survivors of the siege of Stalingrad, but now respectively subjected to the horror of a Soviet labour camp and brutal interrogation. Subsequently they find themselves pawns in a wider political game. For Moncrieff and Barton, their experience is one of overwhelming disillusionment and a sense of betrayal. It’s something that has left Barton ‘a frail, tormented figure’ and Moncrieff with unanswered questions about the fate of someone close to him.

The title of the series – Spoils of War – is particularly apt because in Katastophe the reader sees played out the manoeuvring even amongst supposed allies for control of territory occupied during the conflict. The co-operation that existed between Western nations and the Soviet Union in order to defeat Hitler is crumbling, replaced by suspicion, secrecy and underhand tactics. Stalin emerges as a ruthless and malevolent player in this attempted power grab. As Ursula Barton observes at one point, ‘The war’s coming to an end. Everyone knows that. The question is how, and when, and who controls which bits of our poor bloody continent when it’s over’. We also witness those formerly high up in the Third Reich, now in shattered pieces, struggling to come to terms with defeat or even in their delusion refusing to accept it.

Behind all the political manouvering the suffering inflicted on civilians on both sides is laid bare: the bombing of cities, the displacement of people, the ravages of hunger or the ruthlessness of invading forces. It’s brought vividly to life in a way that can’t help make you think of the current situation in Ukraine. Indeed, I found myself thinking of that poor country repeatedly whilst reading the book, leaving me with an overwhelming sense of sadness that we seemed to have learned nothing. As a character observes, ‘No one was ready for Hitler, not because he hadn’t warned them what was coming, but because they hadn’t listened.’ For Hitler, substitute Putin?

Katastrophe is a brilliant blend of fact and fiction that even in its darkest moments remains utterly compelling. It takes a fair degree of skill to create a sense of tension in a series of events where the outcome is already known, but the author definitely achieves it. I felt totally immersed in the lives of the characters and eager to learn their fate. None of them emerge unscathed but there are one or two glimmers of hope that demonstrate perhaps war hasn’t robbed them all of everything. If Katastrophe does mark the conclusion of the series, it’s definitely ended on a high note.

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Kept me engaged from the first page. The book follows several characters throughout the final months of WWII. These characters are all involved in the intelligence service. The stories eventually intertwine and the reader gets to thoroughly enjoy the experience of these characters, whom you start to really get involved with due to the great character development by Hurley, as they start to interact with each other. The novel has thrills and surprises but the best part is that it doesn't overly rely on violence. It is refreshing to get an espionage novel that isn't just a bunch of explosions or sex. Hurley also does a great job portraying the different views of the war, and of peace, through the different characters experience. So many novels I've read focus on the Blitz, it was a good exercise for me to envision the German experience during Allied bombings. Hurley does well to focus on that and helps the reader realize the fear and danger that exists in Germany towards the end of the war.


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Wow! What a read. I haven’t read any Hurley books before and didn’t realise this is part of a series, but it’s a brilliant stand alone. This really brought the final months of the war to life as the reader views events through the eyes of three very different spies; German, Soviet and British. Stalin, Churchill, Hitler and his henchmen are really brought to life and it’s so well written, it feels true!

It’s a very clever and complex mix of fact and fiction. A huge cast of characters, many real and those that are fictional fictional fit easily into the plot. It’s a mix of Machiavellian intrigues as each side tries to out manoeuvre the other in their plans to win. The locations are really vivid and I found the depiction of Stalin and his hideout really compelling. It’s really well written and I had no trouble investing in the story or people. Excellent all round and I’ll be looking into the earlier books in the series on the strength of this read.

My thanks to the publisher for a review copy via Netgalley.

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Not usually a fan of historical fiction but I enjoyed this. Kept me interested from the get go which doesn’t happen with this type of novel normally. Would definitely recommend

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I was familiar with author through the Faraday and Winter series but this is the first book in the Spoils of War series. Although I believe the books in this series are meant to able to be read as stand alone books I feel I would have benefitted from reading the earlier books first. That being said I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Set in the last throes of WWII it explores the power struggle between the western allies and Russia as the latter closes in on Berlin. Well written and well researched it will be a good addition to the novels written about that time in our history. A book a can recommend to all those with an interest in that time

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The end of WW2 is in sight and the Allies are jockeying for position, whilst the German leadership are trying to ignore the inevitable.

Katastrophe follows several protagonists, each with their own part to play in what happens next. This is the seventh book in a series, none of which I had previously read, but will look for now. The historical detail is fascinating but the story is all about the human angle, Set at a critical point in the war, it seems everyone has an ulterior motive.

Thank you to the author, Head of Zeus and NetGalley for this advanced readers copy. Katastrophe is now in general sale.

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I love faction (sic) where it is so well written that it becomes difficult to separate the fact from the fiction and this is most certainly such a book. The fictional characters are just so real that I could believe they really did what they were purported to do with the real people and now I am rambling.

Basically, this is a very worthwhile read and I commend it to you.

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An explosive start that immediately drags you in. It’s a well-written, realistic and engaging read that doesn’t pull any punches and maintains a vice-like grip and genuine sense of intrigue throughout its 400+ pages—an absolute must for all fans of WWII historical fiction.

I haven’t read Graham Hurley’s other books in this series, but that didn’t affect my understanding or enjoyment. I’ll certainly check out his other work.

My thanks to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for granting this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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