The Katyn Order
by Douglas W. Jacobson
The German War Machine is in retreat as the Russians advance. In Warsaw, Resistance fighters rise up against their Nazi occupiers, but the Germans retaliate, ruthlessly leveling the city. American Adam Nowak has been dropped into Poland by British intelligence as an assassin and Resistance fighter. During the Warsaw Rising he meets Natalia, a covert operative who has lost everything—just as he has. Amid the Allied power struggle left by Germany’s defeat, Adam and Natalia join in a desperate hunt for the 1940 Soviet order authorizing the murders of 20,000 Polish army officers and civilians. If they can find the Katyn Order before the Russians do, they just might change the fate of Poland.
A new historical, suspense thriller by the author of NIGHT OF FLAMES, recipient of the 2007 “Outstanding Achievement Award” from the Wisconsin Library Association.
Jacobson follows his debut, Night of Flames, with another solid WWII thriller. In late 1944, American Adam Nowak, a deadly sniper/assassin known as Wolf, is fighting alongside the remnants of the Polish army, the Armia Krajowa, as they seek to defeat the retreating Nazi army. Nowak must find a document, the Katyn order, which will prove that Russians at the highest level ordered the massacre of 20,000 Polish officers in 1940, primarily in the Katyn Forest. This document will be used to prevent the Soviets from taking over Poland when the three Allied leaders, Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt, meet in Potsdam to divide up postwar Europe. The author makes the bloody fight for Warsaw both exciting and suspenseful. While the search for the document drives the action, it’s the saga of the brave men and women of the Armia Krajowa who must first battle the Germans and then the Russians that’s the heart of the story.
Jacobson’s second World War II novel (after the award-winning Night of Flames) offers two impressive historical thrillers in one. The first half, set during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, vividly portrays the near total destruction of Poland’s capital as the resistance fighters try vainly and at great cost to resist the German advance. Adam Nowak, an American of Polish birth, works as an assassin for the resistance movement in uneasy alliance with one of their couriers, Natalia Kowalski. With the end of the European war, the novel’s second half follows Adam and Natalia as the Red Army and the NKVD (a precursor to the Soviet KGB) tighten their control over Poland. In Kraków, Adam and Natalia are ordered by the British to find a copy of Stalin’s authorization of the execution of Polish officers in the Katyn Forest, a war crime falsely attributed by the Soviets to the Germans. With the brutal NKVD agent who carried out the massacre on their heels, the two must again risk their lives in an attempt to alter the fate of their nation. VERDICT Despite a few coincidences that strain credulity, this novel’s compelling authenticity and evocatively rendered detail will captivate history buffs and thriller fans alike.
It is 1944. “The German War Machine is in retreat as the Russians advance. In Warsaw, Resistance fighters rise up against their Nazi occupiers, but the Germans retaliate, ruthlessly leveling the once beautiful city. American Adam Nowak has been dropped into Poland by British intelligence as an assassin and Resistance fighter. During the Warsaw Rising he meets Natalia, a covert operative who has lost everything – just as he has. Amid the Allied power struggle left by Germany’s defeat, Adam and Natalia join in a desperate hunt for the 1940 Soviet order authorizing the murders of 20,000 Polish Army officers and civilians. If they can find the Katyń Order before the Russians do, they may change the fate of Poland. The fate of millions depends on them.”
The flyleaf of Douglas W. Jacobson’s new novel, “The Katyń Order,” sets the stage for a riveting story of love, adventure and intrigue set in WWII Poland. Those who enjoyed James Martin’s “Push Not the River” and “Against the Crimson Sky,” or Alan Furst’s “The Polish Officer” will not want to miss Jacobson’s new book. Not only history buffs, but fans of mystery, adventure, and love stories will enjoy this fast-paced and suspenseful historical novel.
This easy-to-read tale of love between “Wolf” and “The Conductor” (pseudonyms of the two star-crossed Polish resistance fighters) is engaging, from start to finish. Will the lovers survive the war? Separated by war and emotionally scarred, will their paths cross again? Who will be the first to locate “the order” to kill Polish officers – the NKVD (Stalin’s secret police) or the AK (Armia Krajowa, i.e., the Polish Home Army)? Will proof that the Soviet secret police killed 22,000 Polish nationals in 1940 embolden the Western powers to oppose Joseph Stalin’s territorial designs on Poland? Jacobson’s fictional characters plausibly move through the world of historical figures and events of the time.
Jacobson’s vivid description of the Poles’ 63-day uprising of 1944 to liberate Warsaw from Nazi German occupation is emotionally draining. The reader feels the exhaustion of the resistance fighters and the impact of mind-numbing death and destruction. The twists and turns of this story of love that blooms in the midst of abysmal horror, and the struggle to survive death at the hands of both the Nazis and the Soviets keep the reader on edge throughout the narrative.
Douglas Jacobson’s new novel, “The Katyń Order,” is possibly the first use of Katyń as background for fiction. He does it well, seamlessly weaving the “history lessons” into the narrative. Warsaw and Kraków City Maps help the reader locate the “action.” A worthy follow-up to Jacobson’s “Night of Flames: A Novel of World War II,” and a good read.