Book Review: A Kill in the Morning

A Kill in the Morning by Graeme Shimmin

The year is 1955 and something is very wrong with the world. It is fourteen years since Churchill died and the Second World War ended. In occupied Europe, Britain fights a cold war against a nuclear-armed Nazi Germany.

In Berlin the Gestapo is on the trail of a beautiful young resistance fighter, and the head of the SS is plotting to dispose of an ailing Adolf Hitler and restart the war against Britain and her empire. Meanwhile, in a secret bunker hidden deep beneath the German countryside, scientists are experimenting with a force far beyond their understanding.

Into this arena steps a nameless British assassin, on the run from a sinister cabal within his own government, and planning a private war against the Nazis.

Now the fate of the world rests on a single kill in the morning . . .

Every once in a while a book comes a long that is different from the general Science Fiction and Fantasy stories that I generally read. A Kill in the Morning by Graeme Shimmin is just one of those books. When I read the synopsis of A Kill in the Morning in the Transworld catalog it directly got my attention, with a premise of an alternate World War II where Churchill was murdered and an ongoing arms race, cold war style between Britain and Germany I really wanted to know where Graeme Shimmin would bring his story, and what topped it all off was following the footsteps of an assassin as he navigates his way through these perilous times. A Kill in the Morning is Graeme Shimmin´s debut in the fantasy fiction, his debut hits where it has to hit and counts where it has to count, it´s a tour de force. Graeme Shimmin shows that he's got the skills and already makes himself an author to be reckoned with!

As soon as I had read the first paragraph in A Kill in the Morning I was hooked line and sinker "I don't like killing, but I'm good at it". The first few sentences of a book can really help to either make it or brake it. As you read through the start up of the story I really got into the whole spy mood for which this book has received many praises, it directly fits into the lines of James Bond, without the high tech gadgets, all that this assassin needs are his wit and skill. I really have to give a hand to Graeme Shimmin for being able to inspire such a great atmosphere in his story, it readily bring out the best in the world and the characters that you read about in A Kill in the Morning. Besides the heavy emphasis on the spy theme, Graeme Shimmin also shows that he can write dark, bloody and gritty scenes, the part with the kneecaps was just one that I looked away from the book, he neatly mixes these dark scenes with some more humorous ones between different characters. But, wait, yes there is still more to come, the story set in this alternate World War II era, and Graeme Shimmin really up the ante when it comes down to the Science Fiction element he introduced in the end, I didn't see that one coming! Graeme Shimmin had some great and bold idea's when he thought about the story of A Kill in the Morning and for me they all work together well, did I mention the Science Fiction twist? Just brilliant! 

The story of A Kill in the Morning follows to different characters. The first is the middle aged British assassin who's name remains obscure all throughout the book, he does have a name but for his sake it's better to keep this secret, he makes up the main protagonist of the story. In the beginning of the book you how he is planning his revenge on a German Army Commander, and this basically set the whole mood for the story.  Soon after this action packed introduction you are introduced to the perspective of the other character that you follow along the story of A Kill in the Morning, Kitty. Kitty is a young girl working for a resistance group known as the White Rose who try to make statements against Hitler, unfortunately for her the Gestapo is hot on her trail as she is "stickering", but bold statements on lantern poles or the sides of buildings. Luckily for Kitty the nameless assassin save her just in the nick of time, though they do part ways after the whole heat has cooled down. With the assassin returning back to England for a meeting with the Old Man (who gave the assassin his jobs and saw over the "Service" for which he worked think MI:6) and Kitty being safe and sound once again she continues her resistance. Now after their chance meeting several important things happen in the storyline, which I have to refrain stating here but they marked a turning point for both the assassin and Kitty. What I do can say is that the assassin makes his way back to Germany to do one thing and that is set Europe ablaze... From this point onwards the assassin finds himself digging deeper and deeper into the truth of what actually happened and what brought the Cold War between Germany and Great Britain. And some of these truths he wished later to have kept buried as it reveals also just what his mentor has done... I must say that I was very impressed with how Graeme Shimmin had set up the story of A Kill in the Morning to say the least, you are in for a lot of surprises! And I haven't even broached the subject of what German scientists under the command of Reinhard Heydrich are up to!

Just as the engaging story and world that Graeme Shimmin shows in A Kill in the Morning, the characters are also well developed. Sometimes it happens that a book has either a rich and detailed world or character. Luckily for me Graeme Shimmin didn't falter in any of those two departments and has created as set of interesting characters. I already mentioned above the ones that you follow, the assassin and Kitty but you also have the perspective given by the "Bad Guy" of the story Reinhard Heydrich. What I liked most about the characters and mainly the nameless assassin that you follow is that he has the classic military spy thing working for him, he is a charmer and likes to talk up the lady's but doesn't take advantage of them, so more of a gentlemen. And when push comes to shove, which is mainly caused by events set into motion by Heydrich, you get to see his determined and self sacrificing nature. This is assassin is far from the standard stereotype this makes his character highly enjoyable to read and readily sets him apart from the others. On other character that enjoyed reading about, and who added a nice flavor to the thriller spy theme of the book was that of Heydrich. Showing the perspective of the bad guy, when done correctly, add a lot of atmosphere to the story and Graeme Shimmin shows Heydrich in a great way, down right a simple he is just one mean bastard with an agenda of it's own, wouldn't you when you would have the potential he has? In short he is one of those gives that walks over corpses to get what he wants, he will never hesitate to pull the trigger when something isn't going his way. Graeme Shimmin was definitely spot on when he wrote Heydrich's characters.

A lot of the secondary characters like the Old Man and Molly added their own influence to the story and though the concept of the Old Man, who runs the Service, might sound a bit done and done, it's completely the opposite, trust me. This is an alternate story and luckily Graeme Shimmin isn't afraid of breaking some stereotypes. 

A Kill in the Morning is one of the best debuts that I read so far this year, the synopsis promised a lot of action and intrigue but this is only the tip of the iceberg as Graeme Shimmin pulls out all the stops to write one terrific story. In building the world and setting up the characters it comes to show that Graeme Shimmin did his homework and by this created a very intriguing scene, the alternate setting of Europe in the 1955 where England and Germany reached a stalemate when it comes down to the Second World War and where Churchill died down to the enigmatic lead character, the nameless Britisch assassin that you follow along the story. I hope that this is only the first of many stories that I will read of Graeme Shimmin, he shows that he has a very imaginative and creative mind, I am eager to see with what he will come up with next. Make sure you do as well! Don't miss the release of A Kill in the Morning!

Spoiler - Read at you own warning! It's pretty awesome though and you will be wanting to pick up this book afterwards!

Now I was pondering writing this bit. But I just have to share it, as it will cause you to get a copy of A Kill in the Morning asap, at least I would. So what are those Germans up to that will change the course of history? Well the answer is: time travel. BAM! They have divised a machine that allows them to travel back in time. How great is that for the premise of this story? And you know what. Our hero, the British assassin does his best to stop them, but he doesn't succeed and this leads to on terrific ending of the story, chock full of edge of your seat action. I also have to say that Graeme Shimmin did a great job it weaving this element into his story, it doesn't at all sound out of league or unconvincing but he wrote this up so that it really felt natural, belonging to the story. Also with this big idea at the ending of the book only fortifies this story even more that it should be made into a movie. Great theatrical stuff right there!


  1. Thanks for the review. I'm glad you liked it!

    1. Pleasure was all mine Graeme - looking forward to your next book!


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