Hugh Kendall is a young boy in England, 1939. Hugh is seen as a burden by his father and after Hugh is kicked out of school, Hugh's father is offered a mission through the British Intelligence Service. Alfred Kendall or Captain Kendall, as he prefers to be called is sent to Prague on a simple exchange mission and takes Hugh as a cover. While in Prague, Hitler invades and Hugh is left behind. Hugh is taken in by one of the Resistance contacts and is given a new identity as Rudi. Hugh is eager to learn the language and picks up Czeh and German. As the war progresses, Hugh's caretakers fall victim to the violence and Hugh ends up with Bela Juriga, a violent member of the resistance until Nazi Colonel Scholl come into Bela's shop and Hugh saves his life. Scholl thanks Hugh with a place in his household. Hugh quickly adjusts to life at the Scholl's as a gardener. The Scholl children, Magda and Heinz see Hugh in different ways, Magda is entranced while Heinz is filled with contempt. When Hugh finally makes it back to England 10 years later, he is changed and wants to leave his ordeal in the past, except for Magda, that is. Although, it seems that the past will continue to haunt him.
The Second Midnight is a historical spy thriller that begins at the start of World War II and continues throughout the 1950's. There is a lot going on in the story with secret missions in England, Germany and Czechoslovakia, the political spread of Nazi's and Communism and changing allegiances. At the heart of the story, however, is Hugh and his will for survival as well as his knack for continuously being able to adapt to new situations. Through ten years in a strange place, Hugh was able to learn the languages and customs, maintain his cover as Rudi and earn the trust and friendship of Colonel Scholl and Magda. Hugh's is story the driving force in the book. Through Hugh, I was able to see many faces of Nazi Germany and the Resistance. However, the writing bounces back and forth between Hugh and his family in England. The point of the focus on the rest of Hugh's family does not become apparent until the end of the book. After Hugh escapes back to England, the pacing slowed down for me and I was just wondering when and how he would reconnect with Magda. While I didn't quite know where all of the background espionage was leading, it was interesting to see all of the different players, their impact on the War and how Hugh fit into it all.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.