The Hell Run

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
280 Pages
Reviewed on 03/31/2021
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Author Biography

Anthony Palmiotti's career included service as a merchant mariner officer and a Professor of Nautical Science/Navigation. His seagoing service included work on tugboats, supply vessels and freighters sailing deep sea. He now lives, writes and hikes in the mountains near Kalispell, Montana.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

The Hell Run is a fictional take on Operation Open Door, a rescue operation of Norwegian civilians to England by the combined British Navy, American merchant convoys, and Russian forces during World War II. Author Anthony Palmiotti spins a moving tale of grit and courage in the face of certain death told through the crew of the American merchant ship, the SS John Ireland, officers of the British Navy, and members of the Norwegian resistance. Upon receiving information about the upcoming extermination of the population of Soroya, Major Malloy of the British Navy devises a daring plan, much of which centers around Captain Santori and his ship, and the Norwegian resistance. Already exhausted and lacking in supplies, Santori must now motivate a crew low on morale into braving enemy territory, aerial bombardment, and unpredictable northern seas.

The Hell Run is genuinely one of the best books I've read this year. Anthony Palmiotti's war epic is gut-wrenching, harrowing, heartwarming, and poignant in equal measures. The characters are realistic, and you're constantly on the edge rooting for them not to get hurt, especially considering Palmiotti doesn't shy away from showing the brutal realities of war. The plot moves at a brisk pace, and the battle scenes are written in vivid detail as they get etched on your mind. Palmiotti's use of switching POVs makes the narrative all the more cinematic. Some moments will break your heart, but there are also times in which you can't help but pump your fists in jubilation. I found the ending to be particularly cathartic. If there's a true successor to the movie Saving Private Ryan, then this is it. Highly recommended.

Grant Leishman

The Hell Run by Anthony Palmiotti is a World War II naval narrative with a twist. Rather than focusing on the official naval battles of the period, this story instead revolves around the actions of the usually unsung heroes of these actions, the brave sailors of the merchant marine. Often dubbed as the most dangerous convoy route of the war, delivering supplies from America to Britain and then on to ally Russia was double jeopardy. Not only did these brave sailors have to endure the tension of knowing U-boats were somewhere out there, hunting down the almost defenseless merchant ships, but they also faced the constant threat of attack from the air by the German Luftwaffe based in Norway and other occupied European countries. As if that wasn’t enough, the dangers of the weather, the ice, and the mountainous seas of an Arctic Ocean winter would send many of these ships to the bottom of the icy waters. Meanwhile, in northern Norway, a small band of brave partisans is doing what little they can to disrupt the mighty German forces. Into this battle sails the new Liberty ship, the John Ireland, and a convoy of other merchant marine vessels carrying vital supplies for the Russian people and their armed forces. Captain Santori and his crew are heading into one of the most dangerous theaters of this bitter fight, with courage, determination, and some degree of fatalism. All of these will be put to the test in this thrilling tale.

The Hell Run was a refreshing perspective on the naval war of WWII. Author Anthony Palmiotti has taken factual action from the conflict and added in a wonderfully woven tale of fiction based around ordinary people; merchant marine sailors and the brave partisans of northern Norway. There was, for me, a touch of Douglas Reeman (one of my favorite authors, as a child) about this story and this author’s style. However, by focusing on the role of the merchant marine in this story, it lifted this tale above others in this genre. The author did a fantastic job of developing the characters in this story. Captain Santori and his crew were easily recognizable and identifiable as simply ordinary people, who rose up to do extraordinary things when required. Although this story was told from the Allied perspective, I was pleased Anthony Palmiotti made the effort to include the perspectives of the German soldiers and pilots in Norway who were generally painted as similarly merely ordinary young men, like the Allies, just trying to survive an intolerable and barbaric situation. Both sides at the front line were just ordinary people doing a horrible task. The action sequences in the story were exciting, well documented, and to this layman, seemingly unerringly accurate, in the descriptions of naval warfare. If you love WWII stories, this book is something a little different, highly readable, and one that I know you will adore. For readers everywhere, this is a book I can highly recommend.

K.C. Finn

The Hell Run is a work of fiction in the historical fiction, military and action, and adventure sub-genres, and was penned by author Anthony Palmiotti. Based on a real operation which happened during the occupation of Norway in the Second World War, we find ourselves exploring the John Ireland, a Liberty ship sent to rescue Norwegian civilians who are fleeing their own country to escape Nazi forces tracking them down. As the Resistance moves to quietly turn the tide of the war from within, the crew of the John Ireland faces a perilous journey to take their allies back to England for safety after all their efforts in the war.

Author Anthony Palmiotti has captured a fascinating niche of history in this highly realistic and engrossing piece of World War Two fiction. Having visited Norway and learned all about the underground Resistance there, I felt that the movement of the people under occupation was accurately portrayed, and I was excited to learn more about how fellow allies helped those who fled north to escape before the Nazi forces could find them. The book has fantastic pacing to portray the tension and suspense of wartime operations, and I found the dialogue to be very dynamic and informative of the plot. The plot does take precedence over character in this novel, but in doing so the work becomes both educational and entertaining on a much wider scale. Overall, I would recommend The Hell Run for fans of detailed historical fiction with tons of atmosphere.