Pantheon

Sam Bourne

Pantheon

The darkest secrets of World War II… finally revealed. Europe is ablaze. America is undecided about joining the fight against Nazism. And James Zennor, a brilliant, troubled, young Oxford don is horrified. He returns one morning from rowing to discover that his wife has disappeared with their young son, leaving only a note declaring her continuing love. A frantic search through wartime England leads James across the Atlantic and to one of America’s greatest universities, its elite clubs and secret societies – right to the heart of the American establishment. And in his hunt for his family, James unearths one of the darkest and deadliest secrets of a world at war… 2.6 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
Pantheon

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction; Crime, Thrillers & Mystery
Format Hardcover
Pages 416
RRP £12.99
Date of Publication February 2012
ISBN 978-0007413638
Publisher Harper Collins
 

The darkest secrets of World War II… finally revealed. Europe is ablaze. America is undecided about joining the fight against Nazism. And James Zennor, a brilliant, troubled, young Oxford don is horrified. He returns one morning from rowing to discover that his wife has disappeared with their young son, leaving only a note declaring her continuing love. A frantic search through wartime England leads James across the Atlantic and to one of America’s greatest universities, its elite clubs and secret societies – right to the heart of the American establishment. And in his hunt for his family, James unearths one of the darkest and deadliest secrets of a world at war…

Reviews

The Spectator

Andrew Taylor

Bourne’s publishers claim that this is the most explosive wartime thriller since Robert Harris’s Fatherland. It is not in the same league but it’s good enough, with an interesting premise and an appealingly damaged protagonist. Unfortunately the tension subsides in the second part of the book and the hurried ending falls disappointingly flat.

03/03/2012

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The New Statesman

Jonathan Derbyshire

Bourne has clearly done his research. Until well into the 1960s, it was customary at Yale to take nude “posture photographs” of new undergraduates, a practice that had begun 30 years earlier and was part of an experiment designed to prove that “physique equals destiny”. But for all his assiduousness in the archive, he doesn’t quite manage to make these ideas come alive ... One wonders if Bourne might not have done greater justice to this fascinating and important subject in non-fictional form.

26/04/2012

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The Spectator

Andrew Taylor

This novel is something of a departure for Bourne. Zennor’s emotional fragility lends an extra dimension to a powerful plot, skilfully constructed and narrated. There are some wonderful glimpses of other worlds and other times — the Barcelona People’s Olympics of 1936, for example, and the Siege of Madrid (echoes of Esmond Romilly, here) ... Unfortunately the tension subsides in the second part of the book and the hurried ending falls disappointingly flat.

03/03/2012

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The Guardian

Ben Shephard

A businesslike page-turner, which maintains the tension well and has a strong sense of place … Freedland is too impatient to use the indirect approach and unwilling to trust his readers with the complexities of history. He evidently feels they can only approach the past with the assumptions and attitudes of today. So, when it comes to trauma, we get modern post-traumatic stress disorder, not 1940s war neurosis; and when it comes to eugenics, a subject now inescapably linked to the Holocaust, we get crude stereotypes.

12/02/2012

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The Scotsman

Allan Massie

Sam Bourne gives us quite a lot, enough for a longish rail journey or to distract you in an airport while you are waiting for your flight to be rescheduled. The writing is often slack and clichéd. Adrenalin pumps through Zennor’s system rather too often. (Memo to thriller writers: best leave adrenalin to sports commentators). We are told that Zennor’s brain moves faster than his body, but the reader’s may often move faster still. Nevertheless, it’s good enough fiction for when you are in the mood for lazy reading.

11/02/2012

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The Sunday Times

John Dugdale

This troubling conspiracy really occurred, and certainly deserves to be better known, but Bourne struggles to construct a novel around it. Zennor’s irascibility makes him a wearing hero, and an espionage subplot set in London is underdeveloped.

04/03/2012

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The Daily Express

Jennifer Selway

The blurb says it’s the “most explosive wartime thriller” since Robert Harris’s Fatherland. Not really. For a start the characters are dull ... Tapping into the mind of his hero, the author launches into a lengthy lecture on the wickedness of eugenics and those misguided intellectuals (George Bernard Shaw and Marie Curie get a mention) who have found some merit in it. This lofty diatribe sits oddly in a book that also purports to be an action thriller or maybe it’s the derring-do which sits oddly with the sermonising.

13/01/2012

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