Richard and Barbara Osborn’s “On Her Majesty’s Berlin Mission: an Ian Black Novel”

A Must Read 300This week I am finally reviewing a book from a pair of local authors that I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time: Richard and Barbara Osborn’s On Her Majesty’s Berlin Mission: an Ian Black Novel. This is the third Ian Black novel I’ve had the pleasure of reading, and I can definitely say it is my favorite. Beginning in 1961, Ian Black, a British Army lieutenant and Intelligence Corps officer, arrives in Berlin during one of the most politically tense moments in Western history. Russia, who controls East Berlin, is still dealing with the political fallout of the East German revolt from a decade prior. Feeling pressure from virtually all sides, Russia is utilizing spies to keep tabs on all movement, information, and conversation happening across the Berlin frontier. It is into this den of vipers that Ian Black is thrust, entangling our hero in some of the most monumental events to transpire during the Cold War.

On Her Majesty’s Berlin Mission takes Ian Black in a great new direction, becoming almost James Bond-like. Nowadays, Ian Fleming’s MI6 operative is busy tackling terrorism and the threats of the 21st century. The Cold War has remained largely untouched in recent years by thrillers, which is a shame if you know the history of the conflict. The Osborns have crafted an espionage thriller that is at once both familiar and refreshing. While containing all of the thrills and slinking suspicions of a great spy novel, On Her Majesty’s Berlin Mission has a degree of grit that is rarely found in the genre (and is decidedly absent in most spy novels), due to the exceptionally researched historical backdrop that the Osborns have set the story against. Ian Black is a hero, but he is no superhero, and the novel quickly lets you know that he is in very real danger. Oftentimes history books and classes, letalone novels, give history a dramatized, cleaner feel. On Her Majesty’s Berlin Mission makes it abundantly clear that these spy games happened, and that they happened between real people. 1961 Berlin is not a good place to be.

Beyond the exceptional world-building and penchant for historical context that Richard and Barbara are becoming known for, the novel flows quickly and smoothly as a thriller. The action is intense, and the dialogue serves the tone of the book nicely. With each novel I am more impressed by Richard and Barbara Osborn, and I can only hope that they have even more in store for readers. If you like checking out local authors, or are just a fan of espionage thrillers, you owe it to yourself to give the Ian Black Novels a chance, especially On Her Majesty’s Berlin Mission. It will almost certainly appeal to fans of spy novels, military action/dramas, or history buffs.

Source: Jake Depew, Assistant Editor

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