Author: Marilyn Turk
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Heroines of WWII #9
Release Date: February 27, 2023
Publisher: Barbour Fiction
A Board Game Holds Keys to Prisoners’ Escape
Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.
After the Nazis started the bombing blitz of England, Beryl Clarke puts her college on hold to return to Leeds, care for her mother, and work as a secretary at the Waddington game company. While she endures the war at home, her brother James fights the enemy in the air. When he is shot down, injured, and captured, James reunites with a former college friend American POW Kenneth Bordelon, and they plan to escape the Nazi prison camp. Beryl knows there is a board game with escape plans being delivered to POWs by the Red Cross. But how can she let them know about the game's secret without revealing the information to the enemy?
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
The Escape Game by Marilyn Turk is a fascinating and engaging novel based on a true story.
We meet Beryl Clarke, who works at Waddington's game company as secretary to the boss. She is single and cares for her mother after her father dies. Beryl's brother James and his best friend Kenneth end up in the same Nazi prison game where they plan their escape. Fortunately for them, Beryl's company is creating Monopoly games with escape plans. How can she let them know when German censors are reading her letters?
There is a lot happening in this book, and it was quite enjoyable, from Beryl trying to figure out how to tell her brother about the Monopoly game to her acting as a warden and rescuing a widow from a bombed building. This side story was beautifully written, and I absolutely loved the surprise ending for it!
That said, while reading, I was constantly reminded of the tv show Hogan's Heroes and the many escape tunnels they dug in the show. Also, the movie The Great Escape came to mind, so I found that aspect enjoyable as well.
The author's notes at the end really surprised me and made the book all the more interesting. I had no idea Monopoly games with hidden escape plans were distributed to POWs during WWII. While I was reading, I thought to myself, "Wow! I wonder if they really did that?" Well, guess what? In a nod to the Geneva Convention, Germany allowed The Red Cross to deliver packages to the POWs. Some of those packages were redesigned Monopoly games with silk maps of Germany built into the game and compasses as the tokens. This was a national secret for 50 years! Waddingtons is a real company, and they did make these games. When Beryl discovers what her company is doing, she makes it her mission to inform her brother and Kenneth.
The book has a small faith element, with James having faith and praying and Kenneth having no faith. Toward the end of the book, he does pray to God in desperation, but the story ends, so we don't know if Kenneth has really changed. I would like to have seen that explored more.
While this is the ninth book in the series, it can be read as a standalone. If you enjoy WWII historical fiction, you should enjoy The Escape Game.
I received a copy courtesy of Barbour Publishing through NetGalley for my honest review.
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