Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Review: V for Vixens by John Steiner

World War Two adventure fiction can be broken down, if at all, into two categories. The first is the "War Story", in which soldiers of some stripe or another go on missions and set about to shoot or blow up someone or something. Although these can of course be very well-crafted stories, filled with engaging characters and carefully constructed plots, they tend to be much more straightforward. I think Len Levinson's two WW2 series, The Sergeant and The Rat Bastards, fall into this category, as does my own WW2 Commando novel, Operation Arrowhead.

Then, you have the "Spy Story". I think this is actually the more popular of the two, especially since WW2 spy fiction evolves time-wise very easily into Cold War spy fiction and so on. The plots for these sorts of stories can be fairly straightforward, but they do tend towards the more complex, with double and triple agents, mysterious alliances and agendas, double-crosses and feints and counter-feints. This tends to also be the category that has a lot more sex (although to read The Sergeant, one would argue otherwise...) and definitely features more female characters.

With that last point in mind, taking a look at the first of John Steiner's The Furies series of WW2 spy stories, we come across what may be the first series of WW2 spy thrillers where the main protagonists are all women. In fact, they are a special, off-the-record-books section of female assassins and counter-agents who are ready to kill or be killed for Mother England.

I don't want to give away any of the major plot points, but suffice to say, Steiner has done an excellent job, both in crafting a very gritty, razor-sharp tale of ruthless violence and dedication, and in setting us up for further adventures later in the series. There are many instances in WW2 fiction, be it print or film, where the good guys get seduced and betrayed by some alluring Nazi femme fatale, and it's good to see Steiner work things so that the tables will now be turned on the bad guys. There is one scene, near the end of V for Vixens, that is such a shockingly titillating moment that I very nearly dropped my Kindle into my lap in order to clap out loud in congratulations to Steiner for pulling off something so perfect.

To conclude, if you have a hankering for some steamy, violent WW2 spy fiction, give John Steiner's books a try - I don't think you'll be disappointed.

1 comment:

BISH said...

I've already been grooving on these short, sharp, pulpy tales. You definitely get your 99¢ worth with each tale. Get 'em all ...