By Dave Mason
Genre: Historical fiction, Mystery
Review by Gemma Fitz | Last updated May 29, 2023
A gripping World War II mystery story that celebrates the power of family and love and shows us that learning about our history can create a better future.
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EO-N is the story of a World War II mystery that spans generations, from 1945 where we follow squadron leader Jack embarking on dangerous missions, to 2019 where we meet Alison, Jack’s granddaughter. When evidence of Jack’s aircraft, a de Havilland Mosquito, is found, Alison has the opportunity to learn more about her grandfather’s fate in the war and unearth secrets that have been buried for many years.
As a character-driven reader, I love how EO-N puts the main characters at the centre of the story. Along with Jack and Alison, we also focus on Gunther, a German Luftwaffe pilot and we follow each of their plot lines in alternating chapters. There are also a few chapters from an unnamed narrator which sets up the mystery early on. This structure works really well for revealing the central mystery as slowly each of their plots weave together and connect. The chapters are typically quite short too which I particularly liked as it kept the pace up and meant that there was never a dull moment.
In terms of characters, I particularly liked Alison who works in biotechnology, and I thought the depiction of the challenges she faces in her industry were accurate and gave context to her motivations and goals. The background we got, in terms of the loss she has experienced in her family, added some great depth to her character too. However, I feel like the character development could have gone a bit further as a whole to enable the reader to get to know who they really are and add some complexity to their personalities.
In Jack and Gunther’s chapters there are a lot of descriptions of enemy encounters that can be a difficult thing for the average reader to visualise. However, the author did a great job of making these accessible and the level of detail felt right for the story being told. It is clear that the author knows a lot about this period in history, and the plot felt well researched. There are many parallels drawn between Jack and Gunther to highlight how, despite being on opposing sides, the war has a personal impact and brings devastating loss to everyone. I loved the way the book humanised the people involved in the war in this way and focused on their experiences rather than dwelling on the politics.
The central mystery of the story keeps you guessing throughout the book and is eventually revealed in a considered and well constructed way. The author avoids sensationalising any of the events in the book which, paradoxically, makes many moments hit harder. The tone of the writing is perfect for the subject matter. The horrors uncovered are handled with care and sensitivity and are linked in a really powerful way to the present day in the story. The threads come together nicely, and the ending is satisfying as well as uplifting.
I like to end my reviews with my favourite quote from the book that captures the heart of the story. “The feeling was answering a question that she’d held deep inside […] And it was telling her that the answer was a wonderful thing.” This is the message that EO-N left me with, that our history holds so many unanswered questions but unravelling these mysteries can lead to a beautiful future.