It's 1945: a German bomber flies over Iceland in a blizzard; the crew have lost their way and eventually crash on the Vatnajokull glacier, the largest in Europe.
Puzzlingly, there are both German and American officers on board.
One of the senior German officers claims that their best chance of survival is to try to walk to the nearest farm and sets off, a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist.
He soon disappears into the white vastness. 1999, mid-winter, and the US Army is secretively trying to remove an aeroplane from the Vatnajokull glacier.
By coincidence two young Icelanders become involved but will pay with their lives.
Before they are captured, one of the two contacts his sister, Kristin, who will not rest until she discovers the truth of her brother's fate.
Her pursuit puts her in great danger, leading her on a long and hazardous journey in search of the key to the riddle about Operation Napoleon.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 336 pages
- Publisher: Vintage
- Publication Date: 07/10/2010
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9781846552854
Showing 1 - 5 of 6 reviews.
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Review by lechatnoirxvii
This was a good novel from Indridason. I've read a few of his other novels and this is his style.It's about an old plane that crashed on an Icelandic glacier and the US government needs for it to be uncovered and make sure that the secret of the plane stays a secret.It's very odd to be reading a novel in which the American's are the bad guys, so it was quite a twist from my normal reads. There is a lot of action and I was kept on the edge of my seat for most of the book. I wanted to know what this big secret was and what was going to happen next.I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes foreign mysteries.
Review by austcrimefiction
Reactions to an author taking a detour away from a much loved series, or style (or both for that matter) can vary. Some readers love the chance to head into new territory, others find that departure too much of a step, and long to return to the familiarity of the series, the known characters or the styling. And as with everything, for this reader, it all depends. OPERATION NAPOLEON is a thriller, set in Iceland, but based around the mystery of a plane that went down at the very end of World War II. To take this that little bit further again from the Erlendur Sveinsson Crime Fiction series, this book also has a central female character. Kristin is pulled into a dangerous world of secrecy and power games when all she is trying to do is discover the truth behind her brother's fate - there on that remote glacier.I suspect that whether or not a departure from the known works is often to do with the quality of the storytelling. OPERATION NAPOLEON is, undoubtedly, a thriller. There are lots of nefarious goings on, there's danger and conflict, there's the unknown of what was in that plane, why there is so much desire to find it, and claim what it is carrying. So whilst there are many of the elements that a thriller requires, and the pace and plot that supports the discovery of those elements, there are some quintessentially "Indridason" elements to the story. There are some wonderful characters that the reader can identify and sympathise with - it always helps to have somebody to be "barracking for". There is also the way that this author always manages to weave the landscape and the culture of Iceland into his books, and the way that he uses family relationships as a basis for characterisation and exploration. In this case we have Kirstin and her brother, and the two brothers whose farm sits at the base of the glacier. The relationship between both sets of siblings is interesting - perhaps more tantalising in the case of the farmers, but undoubtedly the motivation for Kirstin's involvement.There is a bit of a twist in the tail of this story though, and fans of alternative history may find the final proposition a little difficult to swallow or even maybe a little confronting. Given that the book declares itself pretty well as a thriller, this reader found OPERATION NAPOLEON less problematic than other stories of the same nature, having said that, alternative histories do make me twitch.The good thing about OPERATION NAPOLEON is that it has the basic structure, and many of the required elements of a thriller, but with sufficient characterisation, and a great sense of place and culture that would make the book appeal to readers less fond of the pure thriller format, provided that aspect of rewriting history isn't too firmly in your pet hates listing.
Review by sensitivemuse
I really enjoyed this book because of its’ action sequences. There’s quite a few chase scenes, several fighting scenes, and you can’t leave out interrogations! so I flew through this book eagerly and thought it was pretty good. What I really thought was well done, was the translation job. Most books that have been translated have a tendency to be haphazard, and at times certain passages have to be read a few times over to get the gist of it. With this book there is no problem and the writing is clear, concise,and easily readable. I had a hard time trying to like Kristin. It’s not that she’s not likable she’s just, there for the story I suppose. I guess the action is just so intense that you don’t really care about characters and development so no attachment is formed to any characters in the book. It also bugged me a lot that her ex boyfriends are lying about for convenience. Really??? an ex boyfriend would lend you his car without asking what you’re going to do??? how is that even possible with a main character that seems to have barely any feelings at all?? I understand how she came to rely on Steve, it looked as if he still had feelings for her. However with her other ex, it just felt like he (and his car) was conveniently there to get the plot going. It’s a little too good to be true for me. The storyline is good, with enough suspense and action to get you going. The pace is actually quite quick and reading through the book will take no time at all. The main mystery and the ‘what if’ plot that’s central to this entire novel is interesting. What was a little irritating was trying to figure out what it was. It was almost every time Kristin and Steve were getting closer to knowing the secrets, the characters they were questioning suddenly clammed up and refused to talk further. It was frustrating and I was almost tempted to skip the pages just to find out what the big secret was. Once it was revealed, and you got to the ending, it left you thinking; “Could it be possible?”. I thought that was a perfect way to end the book! my mind was all dizzy with all that fast paced action, and yet it got me thinking as well. It certainly was an adrenaline rush with a great ending. Do pick this book up if you feel like an action packed book with a very curious ‘what if’ to certain points in history. (Those who are into the Second World War might enjoy this.)
Review by gilly1944
An unusual book for this author. A very good, gripping thriller.
Review by bsquaredinoz
Just before the end of World War 2 a plane of mysterious origins crashes on the the Vatnajökull glacier in Iceland during a fierce blizzard. Although it is thought to be a German plane the search that is mounted some days later is carried out by the American army which has a base in the country. However only a single wheel is discovered and the search is called off. More than 50 years later satellite images of the glacier seem to indicate the plane’s location and a new search is mounted by the US Army which still has a presence in the country. Several local civilians become unwittingly caught up in the search to find the plane and hide its secrets once and for all, the most notable of whom is a young lawyer called Kirstin whose love of her brother forces her to stand up to some truly nasty individuals.<br/><br/>This stanadlone novel from the author of the Erlendur police procedurals is at heart a fairly standard thriller. There is a big secret that some people will go to any lengths to hide, a few innocent people stumble across the secret’s existence and are unable to extricate themselves from events and then a race to see which side will overcome the myriad of obstacles to achieving their goal which in this case was permanent cover up for one side or survival and exposé for the other. The story certainly stretches the bounds of credibility at some points, especially with respect to Kirstin’s ability to get out a succession of near-death scrapes while around her the body count mounts, but it is by no means as far-fetched as some I have read and its internal logic is pretty sound. It is also well-paced and, particularly in its second half, is brimming with genuine tension and intrigue. The secret, when revealed, is just this side of plausible and is one of those that makes you wonder ‘what if’.<br/><br/>As with Indriðason’s other fiction however there is more to the book than a simple plot as it explores several themes in some depth. The most obvious of these is the complicated relationship between Iceland and the US Army. The reluctance of the Icelandic people to accept the foreign army in their country informs Kirstin’s behaviour towards a former beau, Steve an American, who she turns to for help when she is caught up in the events taking place on Vatnajökull. At a government level there are economic and popularity considerations which compete to be taken into account before action can be taken. Although it’s fairly clear where Indriðason’s heart lies on this issue it is pleasing that he provides a strong character in the form of Steve to display an alternate view to the ‘Americans are evil’ theme.<br/><br/>A theme that doesn’t crop up terribly often in fiction but one Indriðason does seem to be particularly interested in is the relationships between siblings. Here Kirstin only becomes involved in the story and goes well beyond her comfort zone of physical endurance because she fears for the life of her younger brother and as the book progresses we learn more about why she feels so duty-bound to look out for Elias. In addition, one of the Americans who was involved in the very first search for the lost plane turns out to have had a similar reason for maintaining his interest in the search until the present search. There are glimpses too of other ideas that interest Indriðason such as the military hierarchy’s willingness to accept that torture is a legitimate means to an end as long as they can claim deniability (quite insightful given this novel was written long before newspaper headlines about gruesome torture being sanctioned at Gunatanamo Bay) and a hastily explored crack at privacy.<br/><br/>I knew absolutely nothing about this book when I bought it and found myself a bit skeptical when learning it was a thriller involving war-time secrets. However I found it a thoroughly entertaining yarn with the added bonus of more depth than you usually find in a thriller and far fewer explosions (which for me is a good thing).
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