December 1944. As German forces launch a massive surprise attack through the frozen Ardennes Forest, two snipers find themselves aiming for a rematch. Caje Cole is a backwoods hunter from the Appalachian Mountains of the American South, while Kurt Von Stenger is the deadly German "Ghost Sniper".
Having been in each other's crosshairs before, they fight a final duel during Germany's desperate attempt to turn the tide of war in what will come to be known as the Battle of the Bulge. Can the hunter defeat the marksman? Even in the midst of war, some battles are personal.
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Just before Christmas, 1944; two snipers from opposite sides, both the best of their nations in what they do. Cole is moving towards the German border with the small group of snipers the U.S. army had established to protect them from similar activity by the opposition. Von Stringer had been seconded to a Panzer division, tasked by Hitler himself with retaking the area, driving back the invasion. Known as the Ghost, for his near invisibility, he and Cole had encountered each other before in France after the Normandy landings. Their cat and mouse chess game, which should have ended then with the death of one of them, can now begin again.
Following on from the superb Ghost Sniper, the ongoing Second World War action continues to be viewed through the eyes of both protagonists. Whilst the tensions of the 'duel' are not as extreme in this book, David Healey again paints a ferocious picture of the mindless horror of war basing the story around actual historic events. What is, again, the major achievement of the book, however, is the empathy elicited for both snipers so that this reader was routing for both to survive. But one of them has to die.
As in Ghost Sniper, narrator J.Scott Bennett gives an admirable performance, narrating with perfect clarity and understanding. His reading, is calm, never overemotional, which might have distracted from the text, and his voice, soft and warm and gently accented, is perfectly united to the writing. Each protagonist is also given a distinctive and appropriate voicing. The whole is a symbiotic blending with the story.
This is an excellent book, well written and narrated, thrilling, thought provoking and with images of the war field unlikely to be forgotten. The characterisations, first established in Ghost, continue to make the characters real, three dimensional living people placed in the impossible actions of war. Recommended for everyone, especially those who still believe in the virtues of warfare.