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Operation Napoleon by Arnaldur Indridason
Translated by Victoria Cribb;
Cover Artist: Paul Stinson / Artworks Illustration
Review by Verna Suit
Picador Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250003188
Date: 08 May 2012 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Wikipedia Entry / Show Official Info /

In 1945, just before the end of WWII, a German plane painted to look American crashed on Iceland's Vatnajokull Glacier. It was soon covered with snow and swallowed by the ice. In 1999 satellite photos reveal that the wreckage is emerging and the US military mounts a search for it in high secrecy. A young rescue team member named Elias comes across the troops and the plane and calls his sister Kristin in Reykjavik to tell her about it. In no time at all, Elias disappears and Kristin is running for her life.

Operation Napoleon is one long chase scene as Kristin and a former boyfriend try to keep one step ahead of a pair of assassins. At the same time they try to unravel the closely held secrets of the buried plane. Various stories are put forth. Sometimes the plane is said to contain Jewish gold stolen by US soldiers, or else a dangerous virus, or an unexploded nuclear bomb. They eventually uncover a few pieces of the puzzle and the reader finds others.

This standalone thriller is a departure from Indridason's usual police procedural. He does, however, slyly manage to give his dour detective Erlendur an unidentified walk-on role.

The suspense starts on the first page and doesn't let up. The central mystery is what exactly was the 1945 Operation Napoleon, and why is the US government so anxious to cover it up? The story also includes insights into the nuanced relationship between the US mission in Iceland and the Icelandic populace. Warning: The US doesn’t come across as the good guys in this noir adventure.

Operation Napoleon provides fascinating speculation on history. It also makes one curious about why, after almost 60 years, the US recently decided to close its longtime Naval Air Station Keflavik.

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