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Operation Napoleon [Hardcover]

Arnaldur Indridason , Victoria Cribb
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 19 2010
From the CWA Gold Dagger-winning author of the Reykjavík Murder Mystery series comes an international thriller sweeping from modern Iceland to America and Nazi Germany at the end of World War II.

1945: A German bomber flies over Iceland in a blizzard; the crew have lost their way and eventually crash on the Vatnajökull glacier, the largest in Europe. Puzzlingly, there are both German and American officers on board. One of the senior German officers claims that their best chance of survival is to try to walk to the nearest farm and sets off, a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist. He soon disappears into the white vastness.

1999, mid-winter, and the US Army is secretively trying to remove an aeroplane from the Vatnajökull glacier. By coincidence two young Icelanders become involved--but will pay with their lives. Before they are captured, one of the two contacts his sister, Kristin, who will not rest until she discovers the truth of her brother's fate. Her pursuit puts her in great danger, leading her, finally, to a remote island off Argentina in search of the key to the riddle about Operation Napoleon.

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Product Description


“Gripping. . . . As political thrillers go, Operation Napoleon––its frozen secrets, ruthless killers, hapless victims and reluctant heroes––is about the best you can get.”

“Indriðason, one of the new breed of bestselling Scandinavian crime writers, has written another gripping thriller set in his native Iceland.”
 — The Peterborough Examiner

“Slick . . . and with enough chases to keep the reader turning the pages.” 
The Independent

“An international literary phenomenon––and it’s easy to see why. His novels are gripping, authentic, haunting and lyrical.”
 — Harlan Coben, author of Tell No One

From the Back Cover

From worldwide bestselling author Arnaldur Indriđason comes a mesmerizing tour de force that takes readers deep inside the heart of a long-buried secret with huge international consequences.


In 1945, a German bomber crash-lands in Iceland during a blizzard. Puzzlingly, there are both German and American officers on board. One of the senior German officers claims that their best chance of survival is to try to walk to the nearest farm. He sets off, a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist, only to disappear into the white vastness…


Flash forward to the present. The U.S. Army is clandestinely trying to remove the wreck of an airplane from an Icelandic glacier. A young Icelander, Elías, inadvertently stumbles upon the excavation and then promptly disappears. But before he vanishes, he manages to contact his sister, Kristín. She embarks on a thrilling and perilous adventure, determined to discover the truth of her brother’s fate—and solve the riddle of


--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fairly light but still a page turner Jan. 2 2012
I imagine most people who are interested in this book have come to it because they discovered Indridason's "Erlendur" novels, and they are keen to read anything else they can find by him. That is certainly the reason I picked up Operation Napoleon.

Operation Napoleon isn't terrible, and I powered my way through it fairly well, but if you're expecting the artistry and the low-key but shattering emotional impact of the Erlendur books, you're going to be disappointed. This is a start to finish "thriller" novel, and not really a very good one.

The "MacGuffin" (to use Hitchcock's term) of this book are the secret WW II papers that have lain inside a German airplane in an Icelandic glacier for 50 years. I won't tell you what the papers reveal, but they are pretty interesting - the "MacGuffin" Indridason dreams up for this book is a pretty good one.
The main character, Kristin, is also pretty good. You like her as a protagonist, which isn't always necessary, but which helps.

The problem for me is that a lot of things in this book are kind of ridiculous, or half-baked. Near the end of the novel the main bad guy stabs Kristin in the side with an awl, and the wound is described as "at least 10 cm deep". After this scene however, we follow Kristin through another chapter where the wound isn't even referred to, and when Indridason remembers that he has had Kristin stabbed, he sweeps it under the rug by saying that it was a closed-puncture (or something like that).
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bomber-Gate Oct. 29 2012
By Bookish
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Operation Napoleon

Readers of Indridason’s crime fiction may find Operation Napoleon a bit of a shock: Villains, heroines and breathtaking chases are not what his readers have come to expect. Still, when one adjusts to the radical change of genre, the results do not disappoint. Operation Napoleon is a potboiler, replete with danger, hairsbreadth escapes, coincidence and nemesis. The plot driver is the Icelandic hatred of subjugation.

The story concerns the reverberations caused when a long lost nazi bomber reappears from its grave in the Vatnajokull glacier. The aircraft has a cargo which a small mysterious sub-group, hidden for years in the American military, must have. The plan to extract the plane secretly and to relocate its cargo is complicated when the story’s protagonist, Kristin, a young Icelandic lawyer, inadvertently gets in the way of the operation. She is prepared to risk her life for answers.

Operation Napoleon is an exciting blend of action and intrigue. Indridason avoids excess in the violence and the sex, instead concentrating on providing us with a feast of complex questions and cliffhanging escapes.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Poorly written page-turner July 7 2012
By S Svendsen TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Not having read any of Indridason's detective mystery books, this action/thriller/mystery novel with a WWII theme made me wonder about his acclaimed success. To his credit, he manages to keep readers' attention so that, in spite of its faults, the book is a page-turner. But suspensefulness--although very important--isn't the only criteria on which to evaluate the effectiveness of a novel of this genre.

The plot lacks credibility and seems half-cooked. It assumes way too much. The reasoning behind "Operation Napoleon"'s legitimacy is dubious. There are numerous gaps in logic. The book can be characterized as lacking in follow-through from one chapter to the next. Most of all it creates an operational scenario which to most people with some knowledge of the American military and Icelandic politics could not have been carried out as given--definitely not to the magnitude described. "The Ugly American" stereotypes are excessively relied on to create sham loathing for the reader...way overdone. Kristin's decision to trek to the scene of the mayhem is an incredulous device to tie up the lose ends and lengthen the book. When all is said and done, the Americans' success in covering up their operations by lies, confusion and general befuddlement is also too much to swallow. The very ending of the book, 2005, left me asking "why go there"? Its revelation left more questions than answers.

I did keep turning the pages of this book, but in large measure (as it turned out) I was doing so hoping the writer's effort would make sense and give repose at the end. Alas, I did not get the satisfaction I anticipated.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Plane Down Dec 22 2010
By Ted Feit TOP 500 REVIEWER
Long before there were Erlender and Sigurdur Oll, Arnaldur Indridason wrote this imaginative novel. In fact, it was copyrighted a decade ago, and only now has been published in Great Britain and Canada. (U.S. publication is scheduled for the fall of 2011, and the next Reykjavic Murder Mystery, 'Outrage,' is to be published in the UK and Canada in 2011.) It is a pity we have had to wait this long for an English translation of this work, but all the more reason to be grateful that that has now been done.

Just before the end of World War II a German bomber crashes on a large Icelandic glacier with American and German officers aboard. One of the senior German officers attempts to reach a nearby farm, while the others remain on the plane only to be buried by a blizzard and ice; then he disappears as well.

Over 50 years later, after a few failed attempts to find the plane by U.S. intelligence, they are finally successful, and a secret mission is undertaken to remove the plane and its contents.. Coincidentally, two young Icelanders on the glacier in a training mission spot the Americans and are captured, one killed and the other seriously injured. Before the capture, one of the men had contacted his sister, Kristin. She undertakes to discover the truth of her brother's fate, placing herself in danger in the process.

The tense plot follows Kristin as she challenges the Americans in an effort to find out what happened to her brother, leading her on an arduous journey to learn the facts of Operation Napoleon. The descriptions of the various elements of the story are overwhelming: the freezing weather, the subterfuge of the Americans, the divergent views of Icelanders vis-à-vis relations with United States authorities, and other conflicts. Written with a sharpness to which we have become accustomed from this author, the novel is highly recommended.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars such bad writing
There was a good story in here somewhere but either the writing or the translation made it near impenetrable. Read more
Published on Jan. 1 2012 by Marsha S
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite Different
Written over a decade ago but only recently translated into English 'Operation Napoleon' is quite different from what we have become accustomed to. Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2011 by Toni Osborne
5.0 out of 5 stars best yet
this is one of the best mysteries of the year. indridason is superb anyway and has a large and growing fan base, but this intricate, action-packed mystery is his best by far.
Published on Aug. 8 2011 by mad-about-murder
4.0 out of 5 stars Great action, and interesting what if scenario.
I really enjoyed this book because of its' action sequences. There's quite a few chase scenes, several fighting scenes, and you can't leave out interrogations! Read more
Published on June 29 2011 by Karoline
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep, Dark and Involved
Once again, Indridason has produced a thriller that takes us deep inside the Icelandic national landscape, both physically and mentally. Read more
Published on Nov. 30 2010 by Ian Gordon Malcomson
5.0 out of 5 stars Operation Napoleon
This is the best of the books I have read this year.I couldn't put it down, because it was so intriguing. Read more
Published on Nov. 29 2010
5.0 out of 5 stars And Now For Something Completely Different
As a huge fan of Indridason's mystery novel, I approached this book with some caution. I've found that some authors really need to stick at what they are good at ... Read more
Published on Nov. 23 2010 by Dave and Joe
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo for Indridason
Best Indridason novel so far.You just cannot put it down. The story takes you to the end of WW2 and back to the present without feeling jetlag and lost. Read more
Published on Nov. 23 2010 by claudette lafontaine
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