A Kill in the Morning
A Kill in the Morning is a spy thriller written by Graeme Shimmin. It’s set in an alternate 1955, where the Second World War ended in 1941 with a peace treaty. The Nazis are still in power in Germany and engaged in a nuclear-armed cold war with Britain and Russia.
A Kill in the Morning: High Concept
James Bond versus the Nazis.
A Kill in the Morning: Logline
After his mentor is assassinated, a British agent attempts to carry out a revenge attack on the chief of German secret service, but when he reaches Germany everything he thought he knew about the world is brought into question.
A Kill in the Morning: Plot Summary
In Germany, a British assassin kills an SS officer, and is involved in an attack on a Nazi concentration camp. After the attack, he encounters Kitty, a member of the White Rose resistance group, and helps her escape from a Gestapo dragnet. Whilst recuperating in the Hotel Adlon, they observe Reinhard Heydrich, head of the SS, and his pneumatic concubines, the Mitzi twins.
The assassin returns to England, where it becomes apparent that he attacked the camp unofficially. He mentions his contact with Kitty to Sir Stewart Menzies, his mentor and chief of British Intelligence. Menzies tells him to discuss it with German spymaster Wilhelm Canaris who has defected to Britain. They visit Canaris, but during the meeting, an enemy assassin murders Menzies and Canaris.
The assassin goes off the rails, vowing to kill Heydrich, the man he believes to be behind the murders. Against orders, he leaves Britain with Molly Ravenhill, Canaris’ bodyguard, with whom he begins an affair. They flee to Israel where they meet Reuven Shiloah, head of the Jewish intelligence agency.
Reuven agrees to help them get into Germany to carry out their revenge, if in return they plant a mine on a ship in Bari harbour, Italy. The mission to plant the mine goes wrong and the Italian Navy captures them.
The Italians give the assassin to the SS. They test him with a deadly assault course, which he beats. Impressed, they pass him on to Heydrich. For sport, the SS leaders hunt humans at their headquarters, Wewelsburg, and he is to be their prey.
At Wewelsburg, the assassin re-encounters Heydrich and the Mitzi twins, as well as Molly and Kitty, who the SS have also captured.
The Mitzi twins take the assassin to their boudoir, where they reveal that Heydrich is building a super-weapon called ‘Giant’.
Next morning, the manhunt begins. Following the Mitzi twins’ advice, they escape and search for Giant.
Heydrich and his minions catch up with them. Heydrich needs one more victim to calibrate Giant…
A Kill in the Morning: Reviews
MA in Creative Writing
So far, the novel has won two competitions (and been shortlisted for the Terry Pratchett Prize ) It also received a Creative Writing MA with Distinction from Manchester Metropolitan University.
The MA examiners summarised the book as:
The dialogue is mainly snappy and the varied combat and action scenes are remarkably well described and vivid. The plotting is ingenious and then some. I wondered throughout about the identity of the first person narrator and was delighted by the twist at the end. Most satisfying.
Though the women were necessarily portrayed as sex objects, they were rescued by the author’s successful determination to give them autonomy and resourcefuIness. I did like Kitty’s opening section very much indeed. The violence was also handled well – it was graphic but not sadistic – I never flinched from the words on the page. I also admire the research that clearly went into the book – this novel is a labour of love if ever there was one.
You Write On
The first three chapters won the Book of the Month award on the competitive writing website You Write On. The prize was a review by Lauren Buckland of Random House, who observed:
Your menacing opening explodes into brutal violence with the scene where the Pig is murdered – you handle this switch in pace brilliantly. It is short, sharp and extremely visceral – your narrator is chillingly calm and controlled, the only hint of vulnerability glimpsed when we see him vomit twice after the kill.
Kitty is a much more emotional character and the reader feels enormous empathy for her straight away. The gory, horrifying spectacle of the hawk killing the mouse and its parallels with her own life is very powerful – she is truly in constant danger from predators. Her fragility is palpable and very credible.
Turtledove ‘Superlative’ Award
An early draft received the overall best story award in the Turtledove Awards run by the website alternatehistory.com. Comments included:
Better than Fatherland .
Much better than Devil May Care .
Terry Pratchett Prize
A Kill in the Morning was shortlisted for the Terry Pratchett Prize , 2013. It didn’t win, losing out to The Hive by Alexander Maskill. However, Simon Taylor, Editorial Director of Transworld, was sufficiently impressed by the novel to enter it into the normal acquisitions process at the publishing house, which lead to Transworld agreeing to publish the novel .
A Kill in the Morning: Book Cover
The cover is a close up of Kitty, one of the two female protagonists. Her red hair and green eyes make a dramatic contrast.
A Kill in the Morning: Analysis
With spies, assassins, pirates, hot chicks, tight leather, secret underground bases and incredible doomsday weapons it’s an unputdownable, commercial spy thriller. It’s set in a unique, intriguing and surprising world and mixes historical supporting characters with engaging and sympathetic protagonists.
A Kill in the Morning: Opening paragraph
I don’t like killing, but I’m good at it.
Murder isn’t so bad from a distance, just shapes in my scope. Close up work though, the garrotte around the neck, the knife in the heart, it’s not for me. Too much empathy, that’s my problem.
But not today. Today is different.
Alternate History Flag for A Kill in the Morning
In the Alternate History of A Kill in the Morning , the British Mandate of Palestine has become a dominion of the British Empire.
Click on alternative history flags to see others that I’ve designed.
A Kill in the Morning: My Rating
Probably my best book. Certainly the one other people like most. If you like spy thrillers or alternate history you’ll love it.
Want to read it?
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