Fear Itself: A Novel
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Set in the tense and uncertain years before the Second World War, when America was still largely conflicted about entering the war on either side, Andrew Rosenheim’s thriller Fear Itself offers a rich depiction of history as it was―and as it might have been.
Jimmy Nessheim, a young Special Agent in the fledgling FBI, is assigned to infiltrate a new German–American organization known as the Bund. Ardently pro-Nazi, the Bund is conspiring to sabotage American efforts against Adolf Hitler. But as Nessheim’s investigation takes him into the very heart of the Bund, it becomes increasingly clear that something far more sinister is at work, something that seems to lead directly to the White House. Drawn into the center of Washington’s high society, Nessheim finds himself caught up in a web of political intrigue and secret lives. But as he moves closer to the truth, an even more lethal plot emerges, one that could rewrite history.
With sharp wit and a keen eye for period details, Rosenheim fully immerses the reader in Depression-era America. He seamlessly weaves into the narrative larger-than-life figures such as J. Edgar Hoover, Clyde Tolson, and Lucy Mercer Rutherford, as well as historical events like the 1939 pro-Nazi rally held at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. The first in a series chronicling Agent Nessheim’s adventures throughout the war, Fear Itself establishes Andrew Rosenheim as a spectacular new talent.
badly cut maple, with four chairs around it. Guttman hit a switch, and light the colour of smoky caramel illuminated the dingy quarters. On a bare pine sideboard a black telephone sat like a squat toad. There was no external view – the yellowed blinds on the windows were pulled down. The room smelled stale. ‘Have a seat,’ said Guttman, as he double-locked the door and sat down himself. ‘It’s not the Waldorf, but relax, it’s only for a night. Was your trip okay?’ ‘Not bad. Morgan didn’t seem too
from the kitchen window, where Smitty stood on the other side, handing them the crockery bowls. This evening Nessheim had Mrs Grumholtz on the opposite end of the table, with six girls chattering happily on the benches between them. Then Beringer sat down on his right. ‘You have been to town,’ he said to Nessheim in his mild German accent. ‘I took the girls.’ Beringer served himself from the bowls, then looked down at his plate. Green bean salad dressed in cider vinegar, German dumplings, and
Germany – the Olympics were on at the time. But Kuhn and the others never saw him in Berlin.’ ‘How did you find this out?’ ‘Schultz has an assistant named Beringer. More than an assistant really.’ Bock hesitated. ‘We have become friendly. He seems keen to establish closer relations with an emissary of the Reich.’ ‘Doesn’t he know the Reich has expressly forbidden that kind of contact?’ ‘That makes him all the keener. He assumes my overtures must have approval from the highest level of the
years, hasn’t it?’ ‘Lovely to see you, Felix,’ she said in a clear soprano voice. ‘I think I was still a Mercer when we last met.’ ‘Let me introduce you to the boys,’ Frankfurter said. When it was Nessheim’s turn to be introduced, he found himself staring into a pair of riveting blue eyes. ‘Pleased to meet you, Mrs Rutherford,’ he said awkwardly. She shook hands lightly and laughed. ‘Call me Lucy, please. It keeps the years at bay.’ As she turned to talk with Frankfurter more, he tried not to
probably. Sally said she’d host the reception, and spring for a marquee. I guess this is as much home for Annie as anywhere else – Woodstock’s got too many memories.’ So Annie was from Woodstock. Is that why she had flinched when he said he’d worked there? He couldn’t see her anywhere in the crowd, as half the world and their uncle came by to congratulate Plympton. Nessheim began to feel like a spare part, so he went to say goodbye to Sally Cummings. Halfway across the room he found his way