Many books have been written about WW2, and many also have dealt with the French Resistance, and yet Kevin Doherty has really done a marvelous job with this topic in his new book “Landscape of Shadows.” This is a book set in the early part of WW2, Paris has fallen and the Nazi troops occupy most all of France. We are transported to the town of Dinon and are introduced very early on to the two main characters, Sophie Carriere from the Paris resistance, and Max Duvall the head of the resistance in Dinon.
Sophie has come to Dinon, unannounced, with another person to kill German troops when the leave the local brothel. Immediately we are able to ascertain that what Paris wants is never communicated to the Dinon resistance and actually runs counter to the efforts of Max and the cell in Dinon . The Dinon cell is not interested in killing German troops, but rather running escape routes for Jews, high value individuals or downed RAF crews. Sophie’s actions set up a series of devastating results as the German commander orders a ruthless search effort to try and find Sophie who eluded capture but did not escape from Dinon.
Because Max is not interested in killing the Germans who have occupied all of the town, Sophie feels that Max is a collaborator and that only her cell in Paris, which is run by Communists, is the only pure resistance. We get to explore the different types of Resistance in France and their inherent differences. It is these differences which eventually lead to the German Commander issuing an order that if the “assassin” is not turned over by midnight then there will be a roundup of 10 citizens of Dinon who will be executed at that time. And this will go on day after day until the “assassin” is turned over.
The dynamic between the German Commander whose HQ is at Max’s hotel and the citizens of Dinon undergoes a massive transformation, and those same tidal shifts in understanding develop between Sophie and Max as she begins to fully understand and appreciate the efforts of the resistance in Dinon.
You feel the tension throughout the entire book, and the author does a wonderful job of explaining how and why the two cells operate differently, and how Sophie has been sent on a suicide mission by the Paris cell. A very fast read, with a well-constructed plot that covers just about three days of action. The characters that are sufficiently fleshed out so that we can understand their feelings. And, the big plus is that the author does all of this in under 300 pages.
If you enjoy WW2 fiction, or even non-fiction, this is a book that you will want to add to your reading list. One of my top books for 2022, and if you like those WW2 thrillers by Ken Follet then this is a book for you!