An emotional rollercoaster filled with suspense, Savarna Yang
March 29, 2022
It’s 1941. World War Two is raging and Germany has taken over almost all of Western Europe. Russia still stands, but Germany plans to invade any day.
Now Hitler’s unofficial heir, Joe St George is still in Berchtesgaden – a small town in the Bavarian Alps. His previous mission of infiltrating an elite Hitler Youth programme is complete, and he’s become a part of Hitler’s trusted inner circle. But unlike the rest of this select group, he’s a spy. And not Hitler’s spy. He’s a spy for MI5.
Now MI5 has a new job for Joe. They want Hitler dead. And they want Joe to be the one to kill him.
Under suspicion from the Gestapo and the SS, Joe must navigate a precarious and potentially fatal path between the rivalry and politics of Hitler’s right hand men, the dangers of his new mission, and his own feelings and opinions. Make one tiny mistake and everything’s over.
Wolf’s Lair by Brian Falkner is an emotional rollercoaster, with a perfect blend of excitement, romance and suspense. After reading the first two books in the Katipo Joe trilogy I had high hopes for the finale and I wasn’t disappointed.
As I raced through page after page I was on the edge of my seat. The tension and conflict felt so real – nobody is safe and anyone could die. Throughout the read my thoughts were a cycle of what’s going to happen next? and will everything turn out all right? As you can probably tell, I didn’t get much done that day – apart from succeeding to read the whole book!
Compared to Blitzkrieg and Spycraft, Wolf’s Lair really amps up the action – which is saying something, as both the previous books were also totally gripping and fast-paced. I think this is partly due to having Hitler at the forefront of the story. Falkner has included Hitler as a ‘living, breathing character’ as opposed to ‘only seen from afar’, and it certainly adds to the tension and terror to have Hitler looming over everything.
Another reason is character growth. Joe definitely matures over the course of the book, but it is his girlfriend, Sofie, who I thought changes the most. From a shy, timid girl who refuses to play any part in Joe’s missions, she becomes the driving force behind a plan to assassinate Hitler.
The setting also influences the mood of the novel. Though the story starts in the sunny hills of Bavaria it soon moves to the creepier and more eerie Wolf’s Lair – the seemingly impenetrable Nazi headquarters which is protected by dense forest, three security zones, guards and a minefield.
‘It feels more like the setting for a Gothic horror story. A tale of vampires and demons, and monsters that live in the shadows.’
Wolf’s Lair is the last book in the Katipo Joe series, but I felt like there was the potential to have more. I would have loved this! The epilogue does leave the reader hanging and it could have elaborated further on what happened after the war (did Joe keep working for MI5? Did he go back to New Zealand? What happened to Sofie?) Mind you, maybe I’m just trying to find reasons for the series to go on a bit longer!
All in all, Wolf’s Lair is a great end to the Katipo Joe trilogy, and if you’re looking for a riveting spy story, I highly recommend it.
- Savarna is 13 and lives near Dunedin.