Most people are unaware that as World War II was coming to an end, about 31,000 British, 20,000 American and countless French, Dutch and Belgian prisoners of the Germans were “liberated” by the Red Army. Then, rather than returning home to their families, they disappeared into the Gulags—a system of forced labor camps which reached its peak of terror during Joseph Stalin’s long reign as dictator of the Soviet Union.
The fate of those caught up in the “Iron Cage,” is the basis of the new political thriller, The Hidden One, the first book in the People of the Blood saga (Calumet Editions, $18.99, 2019), written by retired financial advice consultant Norm Mitchell of Golden Valley, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis.
“I have always had an interest in history, and when I read a magazine article about the Iron Cage some 20 years ago, I knew it would one day serve as inspiration for a novel I would write,” says Mitchell, who has spent the past three years working on the book.
The Hidden One is the story of Ashley Cooper. The tale begins in 1962 after the violent death of Ashley’s lover, Olga, who was also his Russian Lit professor, and a Russian émigré from Paris. Before he has the chance to recover from that tragedy, death strikes again.
In 1993 when Ashley’s stepfather, Colonel (David Cooper) dies, Ashley’s stepmother, Ronnie, decides the time has come for him to learn the truth about his identity. It’s a journey he shares with his daughter, Annie, who has recently discovered she has uncanny psychic abilities. Together, they embark on a mission to discover their new family, the mysterious Iskandarovs.
The Hidden One is what Mitchell calls a metaphysical, historical, political thriller. “I’ve always been fascinated by Russia, the Balkans and Eastern Europe,” he says. “A lot of the history in the book includes things I already knew about; but I also did a lot of research to make the story historically accurate.”