Deal With the Devil — great story

By Jeff Salter

This week we’re focused on other books or authors which we’ve really enjoyed reading. So it’s my pleasure to highlight a terrific book by my friend, colleague, editor, and publisher, the multi-talented J. Gunnar Grey.

Deal with the Devil 

from J. Gunnar Grey, the acclaimed author of Trophies

August 1940

He wasn’t supposed to be on the plane. Now Major Faust is a prisoner of the English and he must escape before they break him. But every time he gets away, a woman is raped and murdered. The English need someone to hang. He’s the hot suspect.
He’s got to catch the killer, even though he’s helping the enemy. It’s collaboration, almost treason. It’s making a Deal with the Devil.

deal-devil

Jeff’s Description: 

At its heart, this is a tense battle of strategy, control, information, and misinformation between a captured German officer and his interrogator, in a small British community during WW2.  But the focus is not so much on any particular battle or campaign as much as it is on the effects of the war itself on those in uniform and those on the (English) home front.

I should reveal that I’m fascinated with the WW2 era and I’ve read uncountable monographs and many hundreds of articles.  Not only an amateur military historian, I’m also an avid collector of militaria with special focus on WW2.  So when I see a new novel set during that period, I want to read it.  I was particularly pleased to delve into this British setting during the early part of the war, before America even committed troops.

Jeff’s Review:

Recently republished, it’s billed as a “historical psychological mystery” — which is apt, since there’s a goodly share of emphasis on a compelling sub-plot:  civilian police detectives investigating several mysterious, brutal murders.  I’m usually very good at guessing the true villain in a mystery, but I confess I was surprised at the identity revealed near the end of this book.

There is also action, since Major Faust is honor-bound to assist (in multiple ways) his interrogator Major Stoner… and Stoner’s granddaughter / assistant.  And Faust is duty-bound to attempt escapes.

Though loyal to the German Wehrmacht, Faust does not embrace the Nazi party though it takes him a while to realize how disparate those are.  Actually, he has as much reason to fear the SS as any Englander would, since his own outfit logically assumes he deserted.  Faust’s primary dilemma, if he is successful at escape — he may be in worse trouble at home with the SS.

Faust was not even supposed to be in England — he lowered his guard and was manipulated onto an ill-fated Luftwaffe bomber by a vengeful colleague.  But, naturally, his British captors assume he’s a spy.  And, naturally, when those brutal civilian murders occur during times he “could have” committed them, Faust is everyone’s obvious suspect.  As one character finally warns Faust (paraphrasing):  “if you escape military custody, the local citizens will string you up.”

In addition to the novel’s many other components, there is a subdued romantic element between Faust and Jennifer (Stoner’s granddaughter).

One of my few nitpicks: I found myself questioning Faust’s motivation at times, for example, when he needlessly provokes his captors (especially the sergeant).

Grey’s descriptive prose was so lavishly detailed I could see and smell and feel the surroundings … a very enjoyable read.

deal-devil-awd

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G0WQ19G?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B00G0WQ19G&linkCode=xm2&tag=hubp0850-20

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About jeff7salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Twelve completed novels and five completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015, "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015, "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015, "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014, "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014, "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014, "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014, "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013, "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013, "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013, "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012, "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012. Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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36 Responses to Deal With the Devil — great story

  1. Iris B says:

    Fully recommend this book. That’s a great read !!!

    Like

  2. jbrayweber says:

    Sounds like a great read, Jeff. Will put it on my TBR list.

    Like

  3. Jeanne57@gmail.com says:

    I can’t believe this! About 5 minutes ago I was in the kitchen thinking about this very book, and this is the first I’ve checked my email today. I don’t know WHY this particular book was on my mind, but the question came into my head: Why does Germany need two armies?

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Maybe Gunnar can give a better answer, but from my own reading/research, I believe Hitler had what we might think of as the “regular” Army / Navy / Air Force. Those were the professionals. Then he had the “police” branches of the military service. Then he had the “Nazi Party” branches of the military service. It seems (to me) quite confusing… and I gather it was also back then to the troops.
      The highest ranking of all those “branches” was the SS.

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      • jeff7salter says:

        And we can’t forget the Hitler Youth, plus (though I can’t recall its name) the “home guard” which was supposedly mostly “old men”.

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      • Jeanne57@gmail.com says:

        I was thinking about that question in relation to Faust asking himself the same.Like I said, I had just been thinking about this book. 🙂 I’ve read it several times, since I was in on the editing process.

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      • jeff7salter says:

        I didn’t realize you were part of the editing team on DWTD. Cool.

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      • Jeanne57@gmail.com says:

        Yeah, Cheryl sent me a draft of the book before she had even found a publisher, and I think I was the one who suggested AP. So I read it then, and then got to proof it. Well worth reading over again! The woman is a genius, and I mean that literally. Her IQ is off the charts. She declined an invitation to join Mensa, because she thought they were all too stuck up, which Cheryl definitely is NOT.I feel very privileged to have her as a friend.

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      • jeff7salter says:

        I’ve known her only these 3 yrs or so (thru AP) — she’s always been wonderfully gracious to me.

        Like

      • Jeanne57@gmail.com says:

        That’s just the kind of person she’s always been. Always ready to help a friend in whatever way she can. I haven’t actually seen her in about 20 years, though. I think the last time I DID see her was when she had a Star Trek mystery game party at her home, where everyone played a different character. I was Deanna Troi. 🙂

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    • Gunnar says:

      Hi, Jeanne, how’s it going? It’s been too long since we’ve chatted, and you know, I’d forgotten all about that silly Star Trek game. When was that, about 1990, a little later? And would you believe that question, that entire subplot and the key to the mystery in Faust’s mind, it was all a sort of happy accident? It wasn’t what I’d planned, but it was soooooo much better.

      Like

      • Jeanne57@gmail.com says:

        I didn’t get out of the Air Force until 1992, and moved to East Texas in 1995, so it had to be somewhere in between then; probably around ’93 or ’94. I don’t know if you remember that sweater you gave me once with the horses embroidered on it, but I still have it. I’ve held onto it all these years because it came from YOU. (Not to mention the fact that I really like it!) I’ve almost lost enough weight to actually wear it again, too. It’s still in pretty good shape. If you have Skype, I’d love to chat with you again. If not, I’ll give you a ring sometime. Phone calls from Skype are pretty cheap. My Skype phone number is 936-755-1255. (East Texas area code) I have my privacy settings set so that only people on my contact list can call me, (I got tired of getting telemarketing calls from the US in the middle of the night!) and you’re on it. At least your home phone is. If you have a mobile, I don’t have that number.

        Like

  4. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Great review, Jeff. I haven’t made time yet to read this epic, even though I love historical novels. But in reading other works by Gunnar, I agree – her attention to detail is amazing.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      It is pretty long — some 190k wds, as I recall. But it moves along swiftly.

      Like

      • Gunnar says:

        Epic is the right word, Patricia. In the re-edited form, Deal’s about 165,000 words. That’s why Astraea originally broke it into two halves, but it always seemed to read better as a single book. Hope you enjoy it when you get there, Patricia. TBR lists don’t seem to shrink, no matter how much gets read.

        Like

      • Jeanne57@gmail.com says:

        I’m glad I got the original version, then. I HATE it when stuff gets taken out of a book I like, and I can’t think of ANYTHING I would want to see deleted from this one!

        Like

  5. Jeanne57@gmail.com says:

    Just read the rest of your article, Jeff, and I assumed Faust was frustrated with his position in the first place, didn’t like the sergeant in the second place (specifically the sergeant’s attitude, which was understandable), so he took his frustrations out on the people annoyed him the most. Especially when these people always assumed the worst of him, which was far from the case.

    But I have to agree, J. Gunnar Grey is an excellent author, who is a master at weaving intricate suspense, and this is one of the best I’ve read!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      That may be the rationale of Character Faust. But were I imprisoned, I think I’d try NOT to get the guards ticked off at me.

      Like

      • Jeanne57@gmail.com says:

        Maybe not, but then you’re not Faust, either. I think part of it may have also been a psychological exercise on his part to discover weaknesses in the enemy, and how he might be able to exploit those weaknesses in planning his escapes. Your arguments against his antagonism might have some validity if he was in a regular prison, but he wasn’t. He was in a rather unique place for a POW at that time, had fewer people to deal with, and thus more of an opportunity to get to know each of the greatest threats more intimately. He was willing to put up with the personal hardships his antagonism caused to gain any perceived advantage. At least, that’s the way I see it.

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      • jeff7salter says:

        Excellent points!

        Like

    • Gunnar says:

      You’re right, Jeanne. Faust was looking for any advantage he could get, and when he couldn’t gain one, he went for annoyance and aggravation, which can be edges in another sense. Or they would have been, if he hadn’t been under the same or worse pressure as the sergeant.

      Like

  6. Going to get it now, may be a bit before I can actually read it but this sounds so good!

    Like

  7. High praise indeed, Jeff since I know well your fascination with all things WWII…and I am also impressed with its endorsement from our German former Fox, Iris Blobel. It is refreshing to see that hey have not demonized every German who sincerely wanted better for his country,without being involved the the atrocities that occurred from the higher echelon of those who were supposed to help their people.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Gunnar has a LOT of authenticity in this story. Must have been a bugger to research. Americans in general know very little about the war prior to the point (two yrs after it started) that the American military became directly involved.

      Like

      • Jeanne57@gmail.com says:

        She’s been a history buff since before I knew her, which is over 30 years now, and she’s ALWAYS been fascinated with anything German. (She was so jealous when I told her that I as going to be stationed in Germany when I was in the Air Force. LOL) She was writing stories about WWII Germany even back then, so I don’t think she needed to do much specific research for this story, given the wealth of knowledge she already had about the subject.

        Like

      • jeff7salter says:

        You’ve known Gunnar/Cheryl for 30 yrs?

        Like

      • Jeanne57@gmail.com says:

        Yep, we’ve been friends since 1983, since she was part of the group of people I ended up hanging around with when I moved to Houston from the Detroit area. I used to spend quite a bit of time with her, read some of the stories she was working on, and even slept over with her a few times. I introduced her to Kay several years ago, when Kay was asking me questions about her writing that were way over my head, so that’s how she initially became a part of AP. I think I’ve already told you that Kay has been my BFF since the first day of school in 9th grade, when she sat down next to me in biology class. I had met Kay several years before that, but was never really close to her until then.

        Like

    • Gunnar says:

      (Hush, Jeanne, you’re dating me. Us. Whatever.)

      Hi, Tonette, pleasure meeting you. The main German character, Faust, was a ton of fun to create and work with. He’s a professional soldier but not a Nazi, like many members of the German Army at that time, and because he’d spent a year at university in England, he was also a bit better traveled and his eyes a bit more open, so to speak. As the book opens, Faust has seen one Nazi outrage, and everything after that stems from his attempt to prevent others.

      I just finished reading John Ringo’s Watch on the Rhine, which takes some elements of World War II into a science fiction universe, kind of like a Jack Higgins story in the middle of the movie Independence Day. That book includes some of the best cultural research on the Nazi era I’ve read. One of the main characters comments that there were three types of Germans during the war: those who didn’t know but might have suspected, those who knew and enjoyed it, and those who knew and did nothing. Faust was in the fourth category, those who knew and fought back.

      Like

      • Jeanne57@gmail.com says:

        Well, you’re still younger than I am, so don’t complain! My body may have gotten much older, but my brain is still in its 20s, and I’m sure you’re probably the same. Remember, you’re only as old as you feel! 😉

        Like

  8. pjharjo says:

    I’m not much into war novels or movies since both my boys are in the military and have been deployed numerous times (one is set to be deployed again in Jan). But thanks for the review! 🙂

    Like

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