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Sometimes duty and honor are more important than want and need...

  • May 27, 2013
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Since I've been a past reader of his work, Willam Brown asked me if I would be interested in reading and reviewing his latest book, Winner Lose All. Set in the closing days of World War II, a young American spy, Ed Scanlon, is sent behind German lines to aid a resistance cell. The leader of the cell, a attractive and street-wise woman named Hanni Steiner, is far more important than she appears, as she's also an agent for the Soviets. As often happens in those intense life-and-death struggles, they fall in love, but... it's complicated. He sees it as a simple matter of her coming back with him. She sees it as something that can never be as she has ties to her homeland that can never be broken.

Scanlon is eventually caught and broken by the local Gestapo chief, Otto Deitrich. The resistance is able to break him out of the jail and put him on a boat back to England, a broken man, both physically and emotionally. He figures he's done with war and spying, but his job isn't over yet. They want him to go back in and help bring out a group of German engineers who are responsible for Germany's jet propulsion program. If he doesn't succeed, the Russians will end up with them, and that's not an acceptable situation to the English or Americans. But the only way he's going back is on his own personal terms, and that's to find Hanni... the engineers are secondary as far as he's concerned. Unfortunately, things are no less complicated this time, either...

It was interesting when I started to read Winner Lose All. I didn't read the description of the book, as I agreed to read it based on my prior experience and enjoyment of Brown's books. As I read the first part of the novel, I kept wondering where things were going, as it seemed it was going to finish up *way* too soon. Interesting, yes... but the pacing seemed wrong... until I got to the second part where Scanlon is sent back in. It's at that point that the first part made complete sense, and set up the book for the remaining story. Of course, by then I couldn't stop turning pages...

I liked Winner Lose All for both the characters and the emotional struggles they had to suffer. Sometimes honor and responsibility *are* more important than what someone thinks they want, and sometimes things that you long for are never meant to be. Throughout the twists and turns of the story, that struggle of duty vs want rings clear. Sometimes "happily ever after" doesn't happen, but it doesn't mean the "right" thing didn't happen...

As usual, a very good read from William Brown, and I'm looking forward to his next novels.

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About the reviewer
Thomas Duff ()
Ranked #43
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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If you liked my earlier books --The Undertaker,Amongst My Enemies, orThursday at Noon-- I'm sure you'll likeWinner Lose All.  It features some riveting characters and a twisting, fast paced plot.
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