Paul LeDoux – Canadian International Play Write
"Kane's long researched exploration of German espionage activities and their involvement in the catastrophic Halifax Explosion of 1917 makes for fascinating reading. The blend of fact and fiction is both compelling and entertaining. "
Tiiu Poder - Business Owner - Aphrodite and Fashion
"Wow! Congratulations on taking it all the way. The cover looks great! So proud of you for this major achievement. I know how it has dominated your psyche for much of your life."
Foreword Clarion Review
"Spies, Espionage & Explosions" is a what-if page-turner with a compelling historical proposal at its center.
Don Kane’s "Spies, Espionage & Explosions" is an excellent historical novel about one of the lesser-known tragedies in Canadian history. In the novel, Kane ponders an intriguing scenario: What if the Germans really did orchestrate the Halifax Explosion of 1917 as a precursor to a combined sea and land invasion?
On December 6, 1917, a Norwegian ship, the SS Imo, crashed into a French ship, the SS Mont-Blanc, that was transporting explosives in Nova Scotia’s Halifax Harbor. The resulting explosion killed almost two thousand people. Another ten thousand more were injured by falling debris, fires, and shrapnel. The Halifax Explosion remains one of the largest human-caused explosions of all time.
Told step by step from the vantage point of Kaiser Wilhelm II, his intelligence agents in Europe and North America, and the various British and Canadian officials arrayed against the “Huns,” this novel presents a convincing case of Teutonic terrorism. Namely, the ego-maniacal Wilhelm II calls upon his spies to wreck the Mont-Blanc as part of a larger strategy of tension. This strategy leads to a German invasion of North America starting in the Maritimes, arguably one of the most important naval stations in the vast British Empire.
While this is clearly a novel, with fictionalized dialogue and the type of character studies that one would expect from a detective thriller, historical research permeates every single sentence. Diplomatic cables, newspaper headlines and clippings, government inquiries, and academic monographs all play a role, but the book is still pleasurable to read and avoids scholastic jargon.
This historical concision is the most captivating quality of the already captivating text, though its end-notes fit oddly in the medium. Some dialogue is overly focused on exposition, articulately within outwardly friendly conversations.
Kaiser Wilhelm II makes an excellent villain with his Nietzsche-an dreams of worldwide German dominance. On the opposite side, Allied leaders like King George V of Britain and Prime Minister David Lloyd George come across as heroes supported by a legion of honest and unflagging bureaucrats; they are portrayed as the yin and yang of World War I.
The text’s balance between history, fiction, and well-informed conjecture is strong. By the end, the idea that the Germans had something to do with the horror at Halifax in 1917 feels concrete, especially with the revelation that, a year earlier, German carried out the Black Tom Explosion in New Jersey, also targeting stockpiles of ammunition. Spies, Espionage & Explosions is a what-if page-turner that will convince many that the German Empire came frighteningly close to putting its armies ashore in North America." - Foreward Clarion Review
In 1911, Kaiser Wilhelm II is increasingly certain that war is in his empire’s proximate future, so he begins to make early preparations. He eyes North America as a good place to start, especially because he’s resentful of the United States’ rising economic influence in South America and the Pacific.
He tasks one of his closest confidants to be his personal spy on the continent, with a mission to create civil unrest, disseminate false information, gather intelligence, and distract Canadian and American authorities from the tumult in Europe.
That spy—who goes by many aliases, but “William Johnson,” his British identity, is the one he uses most frequently—is the novel’s main character, and the bulk of the tale is told from his first-person perspective.
He’s assigned a dizzying array of missions which take him on a tour of the Americas—including cities such as Montreal, Toronto, New York, Boston, Seattle, and others—sometimes linking up with other plots organized by the Kaiser from afar.
Debut author Kane ingeniously appropriates actual history in his revisionist interpretation; for example, in real life, the famous Halifax explosion, caused by the collision of two massive vessels, was falsely rumored to be the work of German agents; here, it’s retold as an attack that William arranges.
The author’s scholarly rigor and breadth are extraordinary throughout, and he also offers the perspectives of Canadian and British authorities, often expressed through various official memorandums.” - Kirkus Review
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