Reviewers Choice Awards
Gold for Historical Fiction
The Tyler R. Tichelaar Award
for Best Historical Fiction
Silver for Mystery Fiction
2019: Alison Wiley, a once-idealistic biotech CEO, is processing her new reality: she’s the last bud on the last branch of her family tree. On the heels of her mother’s illness and crushing death, she's pulled into a seventy-four year old mystery by a chance discovery on a Norwegian glacier.
1945: RCAF Squadron Leader Jack Barton flies combat missions over occupied Europe. Major Günther Graf, a war-weary and disillusioned Luftwaffe pilot, is trapped in the unspeakable horrors of Nazi Germany. Their paths, so different yet so similar, are connected by a young victim of appalling cruelty.
A story of love and loss, cruelty and kindness, guilt and redemption, EO-N's sweeping narrative takes readers on a riveting journey—from the destruction and horror of war to the relentless pressures of contemporary corporate greed—weaving together five seemingly separate lives to remind us that individual actions matter and that courage comes in many forms.
A novel of distinction…
Dave Mason makes a stunning entry into the literary world with his debut novel, EO-N. It is a moving historical fiction adventure that will keep you entranced and linger in your thoughts long after you turn the final page.
A young boy and his dog uncover a link to the past when they stumble upon a shard of metal emerging from a glacial formation in Norway. This discovery initiates an in-depth investigation surrounding a downed combat aircraft from WWII. The exploration reveals more questions than answers as lives from the past and present are forever entwined. But how can a biotech CEO, a WWII Royal Canadian Air Force squadron leader, a decorated German fighter pilot and a young prisoner of war be connected? Through a mesmerizing tale of love and war, history and family, cruelty, and redemption.
There were so many things flowing through my mind as I finished this story that I sat very still with my thoughts for the longest time contemplating what I just read. Indeed, I had to settle with the story a bit before I could even attempt to do it justice with a review. One thing is certain, EO-N is a novel of distinction – impeccably written, every sentence captivating. One gets the impression the author thoroughly enjoyed himself with this work. And though Mason makes it seem effortless through his delivery, it’s evident this story was born of meticulous research and a genuine interest. History enthusiasts of WWII combat aircraft, especially those interested in the de Havilland Mosquito, will relish the fine-tuned detail carefully crafted into the story. The scenes describing the excavation of the aircraft show such striking detail, you’ll feel like you’re a part of an archaeological dig – if you’re claustrophobic, be warned – it’s that realistic.
The characters are all as different as they can be and their authenticity builds trust and meaningful connections with the reader. A couple of my favorites: Alison, the biotech CEO, is intellectually fueled, her whole life based on facts. She is a strong female lead just starting to consider there are some things that don’t have concrete answers. It is her vulnerability and willingness to venture outside her comfort zone that earns the respect of readers. Gunther, the German fighter pilot, is a realist who finds himself caught in a battle and a cause he can no longer support. When faced with an insurmountable challenge he doesn’t even blink, risking everything for the fate of humanity. These characters, and all the others, get inside your head and under your skin – you will love some of them and despise some of them but, have no doubt, every character will elicit a reaction.
As an eye-opening history lesson from WWII, point blank exposure of crimes against humanity, a mystery from a past generation, political turmoil and societal injustices, sprinkled with family secrets, a bit of romance, and hopeful new beginnings, EO-N by Dave Mason is a must-read novel with something for everyone. It’s easily one of the most intriguing novels I’ve read this year.
A novel you'll have trouble putting down…
Flight Lieutenant (ret'd) RAFVR
248 Squadron / Banff Strike Wing
The yelp of a dog on a Norwegian glacier launches a story of discovery that forever changes the life of the granddaughter Squadron Leader Jack Barton never knew. What secrets will she uncover? In this well-researched, strikingly accurate, and compelling tale, the author cunningly and deftly draws events together into a novel you’ll have trouble putting down.
A tautly paced and multifaceted tale of humanity and the power of compassion…
Dave Mason’s moving WWII novel takes place in the past and the present, as a once-idealistic biotech CEO stumbles into a seventy-four-year-old mystery that connects her to the past and changes her future forever.
The chance discovery of a small piece of corroded metal beneath the surface of a Norwegian glacier sets things in motion, and the ensuing investigation leads to identification of a Royal Canadian Air Force plane that vanished in 1945. When Seattle-based biotech executive Alison Wiley learns that her long-lost grandfather Squadron Leader Jack Barton’s missing aircraft has been found, she joins government of Canada investigator Scott Wilcox in a quest to discover the truth about its disappearance. What she uncovers is something far beyond her imagination.
The story is at its most powerful when Mason weaves in a young child’s harrowing experiences in a Nazi research facility. Through the straightforward account of her sufferings, he reveals, as if in a deposition, the shock of unimaginable physical and mental trauma. The plotline involving the child heightens the tension, keeping the reader thoroughly invested in the story. And though Jack Barton is one of the main protagonists and plays a significant role, it’s Major Gunther Graf, a Luftwaffe fighter pilot, who steals the show: he remains a kindly but enigmatic figure throughout the book.
Mason balances the carnage, killing, and fear of war with acts of bravery and compassion, and weaves the characters’ backstories, their individual insecurities, fears, and hopes into a moving narrative that takes the reader through the dangers fighter pilots faced in aerial combat over WWII Europe, and delves into the unspeakable horrors that victims of Nazi camps endured.
In this poignant story, Mason has deftly threaded together a gripping adventure, a history lesson, and a cautionary tale of loss, redemption, and humanity.
A compelling and touching story…
EO-N is Dave Mason’s first novel, and readers should prepare to be impressed.
The graphic designer and co-founder of multiple software companies has written a compelling and touching story. Surprisingly, considering the author’s background, EO-N leaves his familiar tech world behind.
The novel starts with a brief description, “The late afternoon sun warmed her face, the blanket was soft and comforting, and she thought nothing but good thoughts.” However, readers will be left wondering who the girl or woman is when Chapter One begins with a boy, his dog, and a lot of snow and ice. Even though questions are answered throughout the book, readers are often left wondering at the end of the chapters. Instead of being slightly annoying, it helps to draw the readers into the story. In a sense, it mimics real life, when all the answers aren’t immediately apparent.
Dave Mason has tackled several topics in EO-N. It is a story about family and acceptance mingled with history. WWII figures prominently in the book and it highlights the lasting effects the war is still having today. While some liberties have been taken, WWII buffs will appreciate the historical accuracy. This includes military telegrams, squadrons, and the aircraft used during this period in history.
Readers will meet several characters throughout the story. The differences between the various characters are profound but they are also drawn together by a singular discovery on the glacier. Dave Mason expertly brings these characters together in a manner that seems natural, not contrived. It’s a skill few first-time writers can pull off so smoothly.
The amount of research that went into writing EO-N is evident in the fighter scenes. Readers will experience the tension felt by the squadron as it comes under attack and be able to visualize it clearly in their imaginations. “Sixteen more Mosquitos appeared, each rising up in a choreographed aerial ballet before arcing over into their attack dives, each spouting telltale puffs of light grey smoke and streams of bright white tracers as their rockets and cannon shells amplified the annihilation.”
EO-N does jump back and forth in time throughout the chapters. The characters are also often in different countries. At times this can be a little confusing, sending the reader back to clarify which character’s story they are following. However, this doesn’t take away from the novel’s emotional impact on the reader.
Overall, Dave Mason has written a compelling first novel that readers of all ages can identify with. The fact that the novel takes place primarily in Norway and Germany gives it a more historically accurate feel. By the end of EO-N, readers will be eagerly anticipating the author’s second work of historical fiction.
An impressive work by a first-time novelist.
EO-N by Dave Mason is a compelling historical novel where five lives intersect around the brutality of war, greed, and personal choice in different time periods in history—2019 and 1945. These lives include a woman named Alison, who is grieving over the loss of her mother and her precarious position at work; a government investigator named Scott Wilcox; Jack Barton, an arrogant pilot for the Royal Canadian Air Force; Gunther Graf, a major caught up in the atrocities of Nazi Germany; and a young girl cruelly used by Nazi researchers. The author plunges you into the hearts of characters that will engage you in their stories.
This is Dave Mason's first novel, and you can feel the fresh talent radiating from the pages and through the characters, situations, and dialogue. The plot binds the characters together in a way that is clever and impressive, and you'll turn pages quickly to find out what the connections are and how it will all play out. Though the author depicts the horrors of war, he doesn't exploit it. Rather, he shows it realistically and captures the humane side of things too, which is greatly needed whenever writing about such heavy subject matter. The characters are well-rounded, the plot intriguing, and the resolution very satisfactory. It appears that the author did his research for the book, and that really grounds you in the story. I personally like how Mason teases his audience with slight cliffhangers, but then the puzzle comes together and it all makes sense later on, even EO-N. Gunther is a stand-out character for me.
EO-N by Dave Mason is an impressive work by a first-time novelist.
A taut, compelling read with a superbly executed plot.
A powerful and intriguing war story that straddles past and present, Mason leads his readers on an unforgettable journey into the heart of darkness with EO-N and it certainly isn’t slow off the mark!
A gratifyingly graphic page-turner with real depth, Mason writes with an impeccable eye for detail to deliver a taut, compelling read with a superbly executed plot. There’s a real sense of authenticity here and it comes in the main from Mason’s astute rendering of Squadron Leader Jack J Barton and Gunther Graf. There’s a well-worn familiarity to both characters and yet Mason ably manages to avoid the trite tropes typically associated with WWII fighter pilots.
We come to see each from their own perspectives. We can clearly imagine them as the flak flies, as enemy fighters attack, as wings are shredded and engines catch on fire yet Mason is careful to ensure we never lose sight of the bigger picture. As they navigate feelings of honour, loss, horror and guilt. Both irrevocably tainted by the detritus of evil as they become entangled in a child’s waking nightmare during one of history’s ugliest times.
As Alison and Scott come together to solve the mystery of Jack’s disappearance Mason gathers all of EO-N‘s tightly wound tensions and savagely uncoils them. Yes it’s a war story, yes it’s a mystery and the story Mason tells is heartbreaking in more than one way but it is always a story about the values, sacrifices and the heroic deeds of good people.
Highly compelling and darkly introspective at times EO-N makes for a riveting read throughout. One to add to your must-read list, it is recommended without reservation!
What an immense scope this book takes while holding you in the palm of its hand.
For those who have a love of puzzle-solving and also believe that the beat of a butterfly’s wings can change the world—this book is for you. I simply hated having to put this book down to sleep or eat. There are absolutely no slow spots. Dave Mason grabs us by the collar and plops us down in another dilemma, another fact that needs to be checked, another person who also has questioned the wartime protagonists and why the clues are so jumbled in the glacial discovery.
The parallel construct works perfectly because the two worlds of the novel are so different in scientific advances but so alike in the desire to do good. To make sense of it all despite the frequent intrusions of evil through misuse of finance and power. Emotionally, the author understands Alison’s grief and her need to touch her ancestors for some meaning in order to move forward. He writes eloquently about Alison and her detachment from family through untimely deaths and illnesses. Her natural inclinations first as a scientific researcher and then as a CEO propel her to find out what this odd finding on the glacial ice in Norway means to her life.
From the past, we meet a Canadian pilot and a German pilot, both with loving families at their respective homes and both with a great need to put those families back together in some way. There’s a strong undercurrent here that our combined ancestral destinies once entwined cannot be severed. Dave Mason masterfully unfolds the puzzle of how they became entangled in the first place. He shortens the distances between their World War II world and our contemporary one. Seemingly disparate strangers slowly fall into one another and both worlds spiral toward a conclusion that seems both possible, probable, and unavoidable.
I’m struggling not to reveal the genius in the construction of this book. It is spare. Don’t look for flights of fancy or fantasy. Its history is careful and verifiable. We ride along in the bumpy wooden de Havilland Mosquito that actually served as a two-man (pilot and navigator) bomber used at low and medium altitude for tactical bombing and at high altitude for everything else. I was breathing fast when the protagonists were in the air because, at that point in the war, everyone was shooting at everyone else in the air, on land, and at sea. The war was nearly over and good and evil were converging on land and in the air. Saviors were sometimes enemies and vice-versa. The politics were even denser as the thousand-year Reich having taken the worst of turns toward mass murder and enslavement struggled to save what it could of any scientific advance borne by their unethical practices. I was blinded by this book for a time, asking myself how I might feel if I were around in the last few days of madness on either side of the conflict. It can’t end fast enough. Mason makes us tangibly feel the tension of an end to a conflict that seems too slow in coming. We’re on the ground in Norway at the twisted end of a gigantic lie that ultimately took the lives and loves of millions of people both military and civilian. The positional timing of EO-N right at the end of the war makes it even more edge-of-your-seat exciting.
We are, in the contemporary chapters, guided by intelligent characters struggling with depression, PTSD, and loss of faith in the future but driven by a need-to-know, and a need-to-find-out. They are longing, and literally suffering from a crisis of identity. Each fact is revealed to them and to us by experts in all sorts of anthropological research, historical detective work, and DNA—driven science which connects scientific and governmental communities in multiple countries. What an immense scope this book takes while holding you in the palm of its hand, and with driving compassion, moves toward the solution of this simple but tangled tale. We want answers for our modern characters, both Alison Wiley and Scott Wilcox.
I have to admit that I wanted to hear more about the youngest character in the book. As an avid reader and writer myself, I have to resist folding everything too neatly and hastily after the exhaustion of holding it together on a razor’s edge for so long. The relief of a quick satisfying ending is a great temptation but when a book takes you on such an exciting and fast-moving flight over fearful times, a slightly softer landing blending contemporary and wartime sensibility would have suited this reviewer a little better.
Overall, a great read that I highly recommend. Dave Mason won’t let you forget that people fight and die in a war without ever fully knowing the great good that is quietly done by some people in a time of war. This book may be historical fiction, but in its heart, it is true.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in England and raised in Canada, Dave Mason is an internationally recognized graphic designer, a Fellow of The Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, and a cofounder of a number of software companies. He divides his time between Chicago, Illinois, and Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. EO-N is his first novel.
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