Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5’s Secret Nazi Hunter by Robert Hutton

3 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of Publication: November 12th, 2019

Genre: Biography, Memoir

Where you can find Agent Jack: Barnes and Noble, Amazon, BookBub

The never-before-told story of Eric Roberts, who infiltrated a network of Nazi sympathizers in Great Britain in order to protect the country from the grips of fascism

June 1940: Europe has fallen to Adolf Hitler’s army, and Britain is his next target. Winston Churchill exhorts the country to resist the Nazis, and the nation seems to rally behind him. But in secret, some British citizens are plotting to hasten an invasion. Agent Jack tells the incredible true story of Eric Roberts, a seemingly inconsequential bank clerk who, in the guise of “Jack King”, helped uncover and neutralize the invisible threat of fascism on British shores. Gifted with an extraordinary ability to make people trust him, Eric Roberts penetrated the Communist Party and the British Union of Fascists before playing his greatest role for MI5: Hitler’s man in London. Pretending to be an agent of the Gestapo, Roberts single-handedly built a network of hundreds of British Nazi sympathizers—factory workers, office clerks, shopkeepers —who shared their secrets with him. It was work so secret and so sensitive that it was kept out of the reports MI5 sent to Winston Churchill.

In a gripping real-world thriller, Robert Hutton tells the fascinating story of an operation whose existence has only recently come to light with the opening of MI5’s WWII files. Drawing on these newly declassified documents and private family archives, Agent Jack shatters the comforting notion that Britain could never have succumbed to fascism and, consequently, that the world could never have fallen to Hitler. Agent Jack is the story of one man who loved his country so much that he risked everything to stand against a rising tide of hate.

First Line:

Mr. Jones, assistant controller at the Westminster Bank, put down the phone in a puzzled mood.

Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5’s Secret Nazi Hunter by Robert Hutton

My Review:

I have been an avid reader of anything to do with WWII and the Holocaust. There are very few things that could shock me about that era. Then I read Agent Jack and had my mind blown.

I don’t know why I was so surprised to read that there were Nazi sympathizers in England. I shouldn’t have been. Considering that Germany is a little over an hour (flying time) from England, it should have made sense. I will admit, it threw me off the book for a little bit. Once I was able to wrap my mind around that, I was able to get somewhat get into Agent Jack.

Agent Jack took me six days to read. Four of those six days were spent traveling. Ever travel with three kids? Then you understand why it took me so long to read. The other reason why it took me so long was that I had to force myself to read and finish the book. Which, if you have done it, isn’t a good thing. I also found it extremely dry. There was a lot of information to process.

There were parts of the book that I found interesting. It involved the MI5, which is England’s equivalent to the US’s CIA. I found it fascinating the politics that went into everything. I haven’t read a lot of books on the MI5, but what I have read caught my interest.

Agent Jack had a wide assortment of people as main characters. But the main guy, the bank clerk who was essential to everything, was fascinating. He kept tabs on 500 people without blowing his cover. Which, to me, is impressive. I can’t even keep tabs on three people without running into issues.

I liked that the author chose to portray the Nazi sympathizers in a way that explains why they felt that way. A lot of these sympathizers were refugees from WWI and harbored anger towards England. They would do anything to help Germany, which included betraying the country that took them in.

The author did a fantastic job of showing what happened to all the key players, good and bad, at the end of the book. I will say that I was inscensed over how Eric Roberts was treated. That poor man gave years and to get treated like that!! Shameful.

I would give Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5’s Secret Nazi Hunter an Older teen rating. There is no sex. There is mild language. There is mild violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I would reread Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5’s Secret Nazi Hunter. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Death March Escape by Jack J. Hersch

5 Stars

Publisher: Frontline Books

Date of publication: January 19th, 2019

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, Memoirs

Where to find Death March Escape: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Goodreads synopsis:

In June 1944, the Nazis locked eighteen-year-old Dave Hersch into a railroad boxcar and shipped him from his hometown of Dej, Hungary, to Mauthausen Concentration Camp, the harshest, cruelest camp in the Reich. After ten months in the granite mines of Mauthausen’s nearby sub-camp, Gusen, he weighed less than 80lbs, nothing but skin and bones.

Somehow surviving the relentless horrors of these two brutal camps, as Allied forces drew near Dave was forced to join a death march to Gunskirchen Concentration Camp, over thirty miles away. Soon after the start of the march, and more dead than alive, Dave summoned a burst of energy he did not know he had and escaped. Quickly recaptured, he managed to avoid being killed by the guards. Put on another death march a few days later, he achieved the impossible: he escaped again.

Dave often told his story of survival and escape, and his son, Jack, thought he knew it well. But years after his father’s death, he came across a photograph of his father on, of all places, the Mauthausen Memorial’s website. It was an image he had never seen before – and it propelled him on an intensely personal journey of discovery.

Using only his father’s words for guidance, Jack takes us along as he flies to Europe to learn the secrets behind the photograph, secrets his father never told of his time in the camps. Beginning in the verdant hills of his father’s Hungarian hometown, we travel with Jack to the foreboding rock mines of Mauthausen and Gusen concentration camps, to the dust-choked roads and intersections of the death marches, and, finally, to the makeshift hiding places of his father’s rescuers. We accompany Jack’s every step as he describes the unimaginable: what his father must have seen and felt while struggling to survive in the most abominable places on earth.

In a warm and emotionally engaging story, Jack digs deeply into both his father’s life and his own, revisiting – and reflecting on – his father’s time at the hands of the Nazis during the last year of the Second World War, when more than mere survival was at stake – the fate of humanity itself hung in the balance.

My review:

It is rare that I read nonfiction. It is even rarer that I review it. I do make an exception for anything written about WW2 and the Holocaust. When I was approached by the publisher to review Death March Escape, I accepted without hesitation.

This book was haunting. Excellent but haunting. The author did a fantastic job of telling the story of his father’s escapes from 2 different points of views. The first being his father’s point of view. The second being his. Jack’s story was intertwined with his father. He would write about the Seder where his father told him the story of his escapes. Then he would write about what he did. His journey to Mauthausen and Gusen. His following of his father’s escape routes. It was amazing to read. I don’t like it when a book does that. But, in this book, it worked.

There are some brutal scenes in this book. This book will make you cry. From the minute Jack’s father is separated from his mother to the scene where he is liberated, I cried. Like Jack, I did wonder at how this 17/18-year-old boy survived mentally. Like Jack, I came to the conclusion that he had to disassociate from everything that he was seeing/experiencing. That is the only way he survived.

I also had tears during Jack’s part of the book. He had grown up with tales of his father’s imprisonment. It wasn’t until he actually went to Mauthausen and Gusen that he understood exactly what his father went through. Those were some of the toughest scenes to read. Knowing what he did, seeing the concentration camps and then realizing that his father glossed over what happened. My heart broke for him.

This was not an easy book to read. Nothing that is written about the Holocaust is. But, it needs to be read. That way future generations can learn.

I would give Death March Escape an Adult rating. There is no sex. There is violence. There is some mild language. There are trigger warnings. They would be concentration camps, separation of family, the death of parents, the death of siblings and extreme cruelty. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread Death March Escape. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.

I would like to thank the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Death March Escape.

All opinions stated in this review of Death March Escape are mine.

Belle Gunness: The True Story of the Slaying Mother (True Crimes by Evil Killers: Book 14) by Jack Rosewood and Rebecca Lo

Belle Gunness: The True Story of The Slaying Mother: Historical Serial Killers and Murderers (True Crime by Evil Killers Book 14) by [Rosewood, Jack, Lo, Rebecca]

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Date of publication: February 21, 2016

Genre: True Crime, Biography, History, Nonfiction

Series: True Crimes by Evil Killers

Arnold Sodeman: The True Story of the Schoolgirl Strangler—Book 1

Edmund Kemper: The True Story of The Co-ed Killer—Book 2

Charles Ray Hatcher: The True Story of Crazy Charlie’s Killing Spree—Book 3

Carl Stayner: The True Story of The Yosemite Park Killer—Book 4

Robert Berdella: The True Story of The Kansas City ButcherBook 5

Dean Corll: The True Story of The Houston Mass Murders—Book 6

Donald Gaskins: The Meanest Man in America—Book 7

The Briley Brothers: The True Story of The Slaying Brothers—Book 8

Martin Bryant: The Port Arther Massacre—Book 9

William Bonin: The True Story of The Freeway Killer—Book 10

The Killing Cousins: The True Story of The Killing Cousins—Book 11

Herbert Mullin: The True Story of the Psychopath of Santa Cruz

Eric Edgar Cooke: The True Story of The Night Caller—Book 12

William Heirens: The True Story of The Lipstick Killer—Book 13

Belle Gunness: The True Story of the Slaying Mother—Book 14

Joseph Paul Franklin: The True Story of the Racist Killer—Book 15

Christopher Wilder: The True Story of the Beauty Queen Killer—Book 16

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

Goodreads synopsis:

There are few serial killer biographies more disturbing, than the story of Belle Gunness. This female serial killer was not only the worst in Illinois history; she was also one of the worst American serial killers ever recorded. But she also became somewhat of a legend, shrouded in mystery, revenge, and money. This is a story that will shock you more than most, because of the sheer horror of her crimes. A tragedy that rocked the county of La Porte, as one by one, more bodies were unearthed beneath the pig pen.

With an estimated 48 deaths at her hands, Belle Gunness poisoned, bludgeoned, and decapitated her victims, all so she could line her pockets with their savings and insurance policies. This lonely hearts killer was known as Lady Bluebeard, amongst other names, luring her victims with newspaper advertisements. Men thought they were coming to marry a wealthy woman – they had no idea the price they would pay.

Men, women, and children all fell victim to this horrendously cruel woman. She showed no emotion, no empathy, and certainly no mercy. In 1908, mystery surrounded a decapitated body in the burned ruins of her home, alongside the bodies of three of her children. Did Hell’s Belle finally meet her match in the form of Ray Lamphere, the man accused of the arson and murder, or did she fake her own death? Was she the woman arrested for murder decades later? This true-crime serial killer biography may just have those answers.

I love reading and watching stuff on true crime. I had a complete library of true crime books when I was younger. Unfortunately, my apartment flooded in 2003 and ruined half of my books. That included every single one of my true crime books, and I never got a chance to replenish my books. So when I was approached to read this book about Belle Gunness, I jumped at it.

This book was a chilling look into a female serial killer. She had a deep need for money and a deep hatred of men. Which contributed to her killing 48 men, women, and children.

What got me is that she killed her children. As a mother, I can’t even fathom WHY she did it. I mean, the book explains why, but still, you would think she would have a smidgen of love for them.

What got me is that she was identified after “dying” in the fire that blew everything wide open. I say “dying” because people saw her after her “death.” A few people identified the body as not hers, including her seamstress.

The author did a great job of portraying all angles of this case. Which included the angle that Belle faked her death and later died of tuberculosis. But unfortunately, we will never know the true story and can only go by what the evidence/facts have shown us.

If you enjoyed reading Belle Gunness: The True Story of the Slaying Mother, you will enjoy these books: