Liberties Press, PB, $15.99, 323 pages, ISBN 978-1-910742-13-6
As an avid and long time student of twentieth-century American and world history, I thought myself pretty well versed in World War II lore . . . until this week’s MBR disabused me of the notion. That’s because it made me aware of the fact that everything I knew about the war was from the perspective of the main belligerents and the ground they battled on in North Africa, Europe, Russia, Asia and the Pacific Islands . . . I realized I’d never read much of anything from the point of view of the neutrals; those countries who hadn’t declared war. Through a fortunate series of events, which we’ll explain at the conclusion of the MBR, I’m happy to report that my personal fog of ignorance started to dissipate as soon as I began reading Echowave, by Joe Joyce, who lives and works in Dublin, Ireland.
The novel begins in the early summer of 1941, when an unmarked B-17 bomber on a flight from Washington D.C. to London, England crashes in the remote west of Ireland. Unarmed, the bomber’s stuffed full of luxury goods—cigarettes, cigars, wine, whiskey and chocolate—bound for the America Embassy and all but unobtainable in Ireland, even if the poor culchies, (country-bumpkins) had money to buy them with. The bomber itself was meant to stay in England as part of America’s lend-lease program—designed by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill as an effective way to help the British war effort without violating North America’s avowed neutrality. By the time the authorities reach the crash site, the surviving airmen are being cared for at surrounding farms and the wrecked airplane has been ransacked. All the luxury goods—as well as a secret piece of equipment called a Norden Bombsight—are gone, and it’s up to a young Irish secret service agent named Paul Duggan to find it before one of the many spies who’ve infiltrated the country can make off with it . . . or so he thinks . . . because with plot twists a-plenty, nothing is ever as it first appears to be.
It’s a rousing period piece, full of the detail, historic facts and emotions which gripped the world as Hitler’s armies were crushing the European continent and Ireland was being pushed by both British and American officials for help in the North Atlantic shipping lanes, where German submarines were devastating the Merchant Marine, sinking thousands of tons of ships and cargo. Meanwhile, the Germans want Ireland to use as a base for invading England. As the search and arm-twisting go from bad to worse, Duggan, pining for the woman he loves, who’s in America for her personal safety, gets drawn ever deeper into the deadly spy game being played out in Lisbon, the neutral city that’s teeming with espionage . . . where no one can be trusted . . . because everyone is spying!
Whether you’re a student of history, a World-War II buff, or a lover of intrigue and a well-plotted story—you’ll enjoy Echowave. It’s exciting, educational and entertaining, and the third of a series which began with the novels Echobeat and Echoland, but each one stands alone, and can be read by itself. Last of all, as promised, many thanks to author Joe Joyce, who contacted us last November to ask if we’d review his new novel, and sent a signed copy. In so doing he’s made all of us aware of a dandy new traditional series that’s suitable for readers of all ages.