Book Reviews

Each Hidden Passage (Tales of the Bohemian Resistance 2) by Garrett Hutson at Warfleigh Publishing

Genre Mixed Orientations / Historical / 20th Century / Agents/Spies / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by ParisDude on 16-November-2022

Book Blurb

In 1942 France, the unoccupied "Zone Libre" was anything but free.

Oliver Carmichael has settled into Lyon after his hurried escape from occupied Paris. He owns his own cabaret and directs his own band. But his destiny is not his own, when a French bureaucrat uses his past to coerce him into meeting with an agent of the Free French.

Frank Dryden at the American embassy enlists Oliver in the "secret war" against the Vichy regime. Oliver teams up with his friends in the Resistance to undermine the regime and prepare France for liberation from the Fascist forces allied with Hitler's Germany. But a fanatical captain of the paramilitary SOL is determined to find out what Oliver and his friends are doing, and stop them at any cost.

 

Book Review

When I reviewed Garrett Hudson’s ‘Gray Paree’ almost two years ago on this website (the review was published on November 13, 2020, to be precise), little did I know that that novel would be the first book of a series (a trilogy maybe? hopefully?). But the author contacted me this summer and asked me if I was interested in reading the sequel, to which I immediately and enthusiastically replied, “Yes, please, thanks a lot!” Well, and then, without bothering to check the blurb first, I opened the ebook. Got as far as the first date, right under the first chapter number, and read “Friday, January 30, 1942.” Uh-oh. Right. I had vaguely surmised the story would be set during World War 2, like its prequel, but I had somehow hoped it would be 1944-ish. Toward the end of that ghastly conflict. But no, in 1942, the characters (and I) would be still far away from that end…

 

That’s why, to be honest, I started reading very reluctantly. And I needed to take several breaks, not at all because the story or the writing were bad (they’re the exact opposite, believe me). But because I needed a regular breather from the constant subliminal undercurrent of pure tension. That’s the curse with historical hindsight, especially where that period of time is concerned—we know how bad things were back then, we know about the dangers to life and limb, we know about monsters in human form tormenting Europe, so we can but tremble and shiver with each new, threatening development in a novel that deals with those times and, more importantly, with a somewhat ingenious would-be agent working for the French résistance movement, be it in the so-called French Free Zone.

 

I’ll start at the beginning. American Oliver Carmichael, main character of ‘Gray Paree’, has managed to flee Paris and more generally speaking northern France, now occupied by the Germans. He has settled in Lyon, the most important town of what is called “Zone libre” or “Zone Non-O” (free zone or unoccupied zone) together with his sweetheart Lisette. They have opened a jazz club with the money Oliver received from Frank Dryden, who is working at the US embassy in France, which has moved to the new “capital” of what remains of that country, that is, to sleepy Vichy. Oliver’s club has quickly become a secret meeting point for all those who don’t agree with the collaborationist policy of the new French regime under Philippe Pétain. Soon, Frank Dryden contacts him again to entrust him with liaising between General de Gaulle’s exile government and the burgeoning resistance movements. The tasks become ever more dangerous, not only physically (German spies and their fascist French helpers are everywhere), but also where Oliver’s self-image is concerned. Indeed, after his short fling with Marcel back in Paris and despite his willingness to remain faithful to Lisette, Oliver discovers he’s still attracted to other men… And then, Dryden sends him to Algiers to prepare the local resistants for the Allied invasion, and things get really tough.

 

I always thought I didn’t like spy novels, but after these two books by Garrett Hutson, I’m forced to revise my initial opinion. They were perfect reads—the fact that I needed breaks from this one only shows how much I was not only reading Oliver’s risky adventures, but living them. The author has found the perfect balance between creating a tense, chilling, and I think well-researched atmosphere (historically speaking) and writing a vivid, perfectly paced intrigue where Big History merges with personal story. Oliver was no cold-blooded hero, but a breathing young man with questions, fault lines, weaknesses, issues, sometimes stubborn, sometimes oblivious to the point of recklessness, but always very relatable. His relationships with the people around him felt real, made of loyalty and sometimes contradictory emotions. The queer aspect was expertly woven in (I prefer to say “queer” as Oliver probably isn’t gay, but rather bi…), Oliver’s encounters coming in very naturally, in several comprehensible yet (for me, at least) unforeseeable plot twists.

 

Yes, maybe I was reading with such bated breath, from time to time seeking refuge in a history book about the Middle Ages with zero tension, because the storyline was not your straight run-of-the-mill spy intrigue, but had several unexpected twists and turns that made it a true page-turner. This novel is a perfect blend of genuine-feeling historical background with the story of a man figuring out how to fight for his beliefs while also trying to find out who he is in the process. At the bottom of the last page, so to speak, I let Oliver very regretfully sail off to new horizons. And thought the almost cliffhanger-like ending meant there would be another instalment. Let’s hope I’m right. For the time being, I recommend this read (and if someone plans to follow my recommendation, I’d strongly advise to start with book one).

 

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by the author for the purpose of a review.

 

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 362 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 15-August-2022
Price $4.99 ebook, $18.99 paperback, $24.99 hardcover
Buy Link https://www.amazon.com/Each-Hidden-Passage-Historical-Resistance-ebook/dp/B0B8T9Y9YG