The Ultra Betrayal is a masterful historical spy thriller where morality pushes people to their breaking points.
In Glenn Dyer’s espionage-drenched novel The Ultra Betrayal, a missing Allied cryptographer puts the fate of the war effort in doubt.
During World War II, Swedish cryptographer Gunnar Lind disappears while working on breaking the Nazis’ codes. An intelligence agent, Conor, who’s fresh off of a mission with a stunning MI6 agent, Emily, is tasked with finding and bringing Lind back before any of his secrets can be shared. The disappearance isn’t quite what it seems, though: Conor finds himself drawn into a Nazi conspiracy.
A globe-trotting adventure commences as both sides rush to capture Lind, while an interesting subplot revolves around Conor’s deceased wife and a horrific sexual assault she endured years prior. Between the immediacy of the current global conflict and the drive to seek justice for his wife, Conor injects and maintains much of the story’s tension.
The story races from location to location and features iconic historical figures, including Alan Turing and Heinrich Himmler. Each location is tinged with danger, including a decrepit basement torture room that is rendered in vibrant, gory detail. Though trading between Emily and Conor’s witty banter, scenes of brutal torture, and harrowing chase sequences, the sharp story maintains its focus on the missing cryptographer.
The cast is staggering in both its number and variety; all characters are developed in clear terms, though whom can be trusted—aside from Emily and Conor—is always in question. Emily is a powerhouse; at her opposite is Eve Lind, who’s sinister and suspicious. Dramatic irony is a feature, while Alan Turing’s sexual orientation, though unknown to the other characters, is played up in the text. The romantic subplot between Emily and Conor ebbs and flows as Conor deals with his past and both endure current events together.
The book’s action sequences and more subdued, conversation-heavy scenes are balanced well. Conor’s confrontation with the man responsible for his wife’s sexual assault transitions from revenge-focused to a sympathetic scene following a wisecrack, and German characters converse outside of their native tongue for the sake of reading ease, but maintain the language’s crisp, formal tone. A rewarding conclusion includes vengeance and clarifies the fate of the Allied code breaker, all while leaving space for major characters to resolve their own emotional arcs.
A stand-alone title that includes subtle references to previous adventures, The Ultra Betrayal is a masterful spy thriller where morality pushes people to their breaking points.
John M. Murray
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