Saturday, October 24, 2009

Blog Tour: The Swiss Courier - Review & Interview

Intrigue and espionage, along with a dash of romance and a murder all combine to create The Swiss Courier, a historical novel set within Switzerland during World War II.

Developed by Mike Yorkey and Tricia Goyer, the novel centers on the experiences of a young, Swiss woman, Gabi Mueller, who becomes part of the American Office for Strategic Services – the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Mueller, along with a wide cast of characters, finds herself with the unexpected task of helping a young German scientist named Joseph Engel escape the clutches of the Nazi’s.

“One of the aspects about World War II that I was always fascinated about was how Switzerland figured into the global conflict,” explained Yorkey. “Although Switzerland declared its neutrality after the invasion of Poland, the landlocked country had to be military prepared to defend her neutrality since Nazi Germany had already invaded several other “neutral” countries, including Belgium and Denmark.

“I learned that the U.S. set up an espionage network in Switzerland, headed by Allen Dulles, starting in 1942. In fact, all the Allied and Axis powers had spy networks operating in Switzerland during the war, and there was a ‘war of wits’ that made for a lot of intrigue.”

Using the spy network as a backbone, along with numerous other historical facts, Goyer and Yorkey developed a novel, which included both the presence of OSS – American spies, and American soldiers – pilots held for the duration of the war in Swiss detention camps.

“This isn't just a Swiss story—it's a story about American lives that were impacted within the Swiss border,” Goyer explained. “What I loved the most about including the OSS, is that our story doesn't center around ‘professional’ spies.

“We really wanted to tell the story from Gabi's point-of-view: an ordinary girl called to help the Allied forces in extraordinary ways. My hope is that each of us will stop and thing, ‘What would I do?’ and ‘Would I answer the call?’”

Origins of the Collaboration
Yorkey and Goyer met several years ago while participating in an online Christian writer’s network, Writer’s View.

At that time, Yorkey had just completed his first novel, By the Sword, a Mideast thriller with Islamic themes. Goyer helped him determine why he was facing numerous rejections and what the novel needed to be published.

“After that experience, Tricia and I started kicking around some ideas about a World War II novel,” explained Yorkey, “which was up my alley since I’ve always thought of myself as a Second World War buff.”

Goyer said it was excitng to work with Yorkey, not only because of his passion for World War II, but also because it included getting to know his wife of 30 years, Nicole, a Swiss national.

True or False?
While numerous characters, including Mueller, Engel and Eric Hofstadler may only live in the imaginations of Yorkey and Goyer, many of the figures woven into the manuscript were real people, who appear throughout the annals of World War II.

“[The Swiss Courier] begins with a faithful recounting of the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler’s life on July 20, 1944,” Yorkey said. “At that time, Werner Heisenberg, a German winner of the Nobel Prize, was leading the efforts to build the world’s first atomic bomb.”

In both the novel and in real life, Swiss officials closed its boarders to Jews and other refugees using the “boat is full” excuse. The “neutral” country also allowed German trains to pass through Switzerland while traveling between Germany and Italy.

As in real life, the novel includes the stories of American and British pilots who found themselves landing damaged planes in Dübendorf, Switzerland, rather than “ditching” in Germany where they most likely would be shot on sight by German troops.

More than 300 Allied pilots were interned “for the duration” of the war in the Swiss Alpine villages of Davos and Adelboden, explained Yorkey.

Allen Dulles, the brother of John Foster Dulles, the “Dulles” of “Dulles Airport outside of Washington D.C., established the OSS—the forerunner of the CIA—in the capital of Switzerland, Bern, in 1943.

“[Dulles] found that sending Allied agents into Germany had scant hope of eluding the Gestapo, but travel between the Reich and neutral Switzerland was free enough to bring certain Germans to him,” Yorkey explained. “Hence the need for field agents with mother-tongue ability to speak German, and that’s where people like Gabi Mueller, our heroine, comes in.”

Yorkey said much of the book was based upon historical facts found within the definitive biography of Werner Heisenberg—Heisenberg’s War: The Secret History of the German Atomic Bomb by Thomas Powers, and two books about American and British pilots interned in Switzerland – Shot from the Sky and Refuge from the Reich.

Additionally, World War II novels, like The Swiss Account by novelist Paul Erdman, also played a role in shaping the manuscript.

“Once you have this information in your head, you create these characters and let things play out as you envision everything happening,” Yorkey said. “By the end of the novel, I really believed that Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler lived!”

While Yorkey focused on the technical details of World War II, spies and pilots, Goyer concentrated on shaping the motivations, fears and inward battles that helped establish the main character’s personalities and experiences.

“Mike put the ideas on the page, and I worked to bring the people and the story to life,” Goyer said. “There were some sections - technical stuff - where I gave very little input. There were other parts - like the romance - where I, yes, rewrote whole sections! I thought we worked well together, as we each respected the other person's talents.”

Throughout it all, Yorkey and Goyer hope their readers find an appreciation for those who stood up against the Nazi regime – especially those who often faced death for their actions.

“I hope this story will entertain,” Goyer said. “I also hope the reader will come away with ‘external’ knowledge about this time in historical and ‘internal’ strengthening of one's own convictions.”

Goyer and Yorkey are already pondering a sequel to The Swiss Courier. It may center on the Mona Lisa painting during the liberation of Paris in August 1944.

So What Did I Think?
When I interviewed the authors, Goyer told me she hoped readers would have a “sleepless night” or two when they read the novel.

Well, in my case, Goyer was right! I started reading the book the evening it arrived in the mail. Two days later (yes, I stopped to go to work) I finished the novel – the first time.

I love books that make me think. The Swiss Courier accomplished that with abundance. I’ll admit, I’ve read it a couple of times…and even found myself Googling the characters to see who was “real” and who only reside in Yorkey and Goyer’s minds.

I think it’s a great read – especially if you like historical fiction.

More About The Swiss Courier
It is August 1944 and the Gestapo is mercilessly rounding up suspected enemies of the Third Reich.
When Joseph Engel, a German physicist working on the atomic bomb, finds that he is actually a Jew, adopted by Christian parents, he must flee for his life to neutral Switzerland.

Gabi Mueller is a young Swiss-American woman working for the newly formed American Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the CIA) close to Nazi Germany.

When she is asked to risk her life to safely "courier" Engel out of Germany, the fate of the world rests in her hands. If she can lead him to safety, she can keep the Germans from developing nuclear capabilities.

But in a time of traitors and uncertainty, whom can she trust along the way? This fast-paced, suspenseful novel takes readers along treacherous twists and turns during a fascinating--and deadly--time in history.

About the Authors
Tricia Goyer is the author of several books, including Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights, both past winners of the ACFW's Book of the Year Award for Long Historical Romance. Goyer lives with her family in Montana. To find out more visit her website:

Mike Yorkey is the author or coauthor of dozens of books, including the bestselling Every Man's Battle series. Married to a Swiss native, Yorkey lived in Switzerland for 18 months. He and his family currently reside in California.To find out more visit his website:

A few more extras!

Listen to an interview with Yorkey and Goyer HERE!

Buy the book at

Enter and even includes CHOCOLATE!
Pst...pass it on! Help Spread the word about #SwissCourier on Twitter and enter to win a signed copy & Swiss Chocolate!

Just tweet this: The Swiss Courier by @triciagoyer fast paced and suspenseful! Don't miss out! RT #swisscourier and we'll enter you into a drawing for 1 of 5 SIGNED copies of The Swiss Courier!

Blog Tour:
See what others think about the book.

As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Litfuse Publicity Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.


  1. Hey K, just so you know, I went to tweet this and it's much too long, had to do some major shortening. is this the text they gave you?

  2. What a thorough and fun review of our book, "The Swiss Courier." I loved the mention of how you even Googled some of the characters. Yes, people like Allen Dulles (the American sypmaster) and Werner Heisenberg (the German physicist in charge of the Nazi atomic bomb project) did exist, but Bruno Kassler (the Gestapo character), and Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler were figments of our imagination, but by the time Tricia and I finished "The Swiss Courier," we thought they were real, too! We're loving what readers are having say . . . no one has guessed how things turns out yet, which means this novel isn't predictable. Thanks for helping get the word out. "The Swiss Courier" is one of those fun, bed-time reads! . . . Mike Yorkey


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