Written over a decade ago but only recently translated into English "Operation Napoleon" is quite different from what we have become accustomed to. Arnaldur Indridason has deviated from his usual sleuth detective hero mystery to write an imaginative standalone thriller telling a story that reaches back to World War 11.
It begins in 1945 during the last months of the war when a German bomber on a clandestine mission is forced to crash- land on one of Iceland's largest glaciers. The plane and its passengers, senior American officers travelling with their German counterparts on a joint mission were quickly swallowed up by nature's harshest elements. They were missing but never really forgotten for many years.
The action swiftly shifts to the United States in the year 1999. The military always kept vigilance on the location and in later years through high-tech satellite imagery. When changing ice conditions revealed traces of the plane, a covert team was immediate dispatched to the site to recover the plane and its hidden secrets.
It so happens at the same time, groups of mountain rescuers are on a training mission and one of the teams, Elias and his friend, stumble across the wreckage guarded by armed US soldiers pointing guns at them. Suspicious of what they see, Elias immediately contacts his sister Kristin, a lawyer at the Icelandic foreign ministry, and manages to brief her before they are overwhelmed by the soldiers. The soldiers mandate under 'Operation Napoleon' is to maintain total secrecy at all cost. With the elimination of Elias and his friend they realise Kristin must also be silenced and the sooner the better .... The chase is on.
The story continues at a fast pace, Kristin realises American operatives are after her and fears for her life, her only solution is to outsmart and outwit them. She feels if the crash site and those dedicated to keep it a secret are made public knowledge, the world will question what they are hiding at all cost.
This thriller is highly captivating and exciting throughout; the action is a little farfetched at times but is nevertheless very well done. The theme is sharply written with depth rarely found in today's thrillers. I like the characterisation; the players are well-penned and have sufficient depth to be memorable, Kristin is especially well developed as a very resourceful heroine. Some may find the story portrays the Americans in a negative light but any thriller is based on two or more opposing sides and as we all know controversy can really stimulate one's mind and the sale of books, so I take it for what it is: an entertaining fiction that I thoroughly enjoyed.