The second book in the series "The White Rose", which continues the saga and takes Alex Carlton back to his country of birth, Finland, is due for publication on 28th June 2020.
The third book, "Teddy's War" is in the final stage of being written and the fourth is being researched.
In the second book of the Carlton Chronicles, Alex Carlton is sent to Finland as war correspondent for a Swedish newspaper. Besides submitting front page articles, there are also included coded messages for his adoptive country. In this book the details about the battle for keeping Finland borders will keep war history lovers on their toes, but it also shows the resilience of the Finnish people. Alex gets into a couple of tight situation but his training, kindness, and general people knowledge gets him through.
by NetGalley review
Alex Carlton is sent as an undercover operator to Finland. His exploits form the basis of an entertaining novel, with an insight into Finland.
by NetGalley review
The White Rose by Robert Webber is anovel about the War between the Soviet Union and Finland ,often called The Winter War, in the years 1939- 1940. It is a story of espionage and features Alex Carlton, a British Naval Lieutenant seconded, as the Brits term it, to the SIS. Carlton’s family history is crucial to the story. His family was Russian, his father Alexander Karpov, was a general of the Tsar’s army and a body guard to the Tsar’s family. After the Russian Revolution, and the assassination of the Ramanovs, Carlton’s father and family fled to Finland, then part of Sweden, and on to England , where the family named was changed to Carlton.
Alex Carlton, now with the Swedish sounding cover name Alex Carlsson , acts as a correspondent for a Swedish newspaper, with orders from his spymaster superiors in Britain to learn all he can about the situation in Finland . The overarching purpose for Carlton/ Carlson is to assess Soviet strength and intentions.
Much of the first chapters of the novel deal with Alex setting up his persona as a correspondent, making contacts with the local press and looking like a working -and drinking- correspondent and tourist. Indeed, the author takes his readers on a lengthy descriptive tour of his travel from Sweden to Finland. This is good since I am sure most people know not a great deal about the food, drink or culture of either nation. I found this part of the book somewhat slow and meandering, a bit like looking at pictures of another family member’s summer trip. , However, it demonstrates that the author knows his way around the countryside and the languages, both Swedish and Finn. Conversations with locals in the book are thankfully translated , so the reader is kept in the flow.
When hostilities begin the book comes alive, with descriptions of Soviet bombing raids and the Finn reaction to them, a reaction both stoic and scornful- “ The Russkies haven’t learned to shoot or bomb straight.” That will change. Alex , actin as a correspondent, makes his way to the fighting front, witnessing the heroic efforts of the Finnish army’s fight to stop the Russian invasion. He finds himself under fire and nearly captured, but uses his recently learned SIS spy skills to shoot his way out. While the Finns are rejoicing that first attacks by the Soviets are stopped, all sense that the war is simply paused , not over.
“The White Rose” reaches is at its best as its hero becomes more involved with the fighting. The descriptions of how the outnumbered Finns fight back desperately defending their homeland are quite compelling. Alex sometimes forgets that he is a non combatant, helping the soldiers, assisting refugees, infiltrating behind Russian lines and providing intelligence to the Finns. Like Zelig ( of the Woody Allen film) Alex finds himself meeting some notables while being present at historical events. These scenes have credibility, thanks to the author’s matter of fact delivery. Best of all are the moments where Alex Carlsson endangers himself and his mission to help some Finns caught in war’s wake. We also learn how promised British aid to the Finns never materializes and the geopolitical reasons why the Finns were left alone by her Scandinavian neighbors. All this, skillfully written, give the reader a very good picture of a remote war that presages the bigger one to come.
“The White Rose” is subtitled “ The Carlton Chronicles, part 1” so readers know that there is more to come. But this book is complete in this volume, without cliffhangers. Even the White Rose of the tile becomes known.
Summary: A spy story and historical drama that whose drama builds as the story unfolds, so be a little patient with the travelogue beginning because the novel,is good , exciting and satisfying. Amusing are Alex efforts at resisting the temptations of beautiful Swedish and Finnish women who are attracted to the handsome “ war correspondent”: Alex is a married man with a pregnant wife back in Britain, after all. No James Bond, he. Rating just about a full four stars, so four it is.
Cautions: wartime combat violence, although not extreme. A rape with Russian soldiers vs.Finnish woman. Lots of drinking and smoking- it is the 1940’s, after all.
by NetGalley review
Robert Webber is a natural storyteller. This novel takes a serious look at the conflict between Finland and the invading armies of the great Russian Bear. The author creates a great sense of time and place equal to anything written by Graham Greene or John le Carre.
Alex Carlton is a spy for the British. It is the early months of WW2 and he poses as a journalist for a Swedish newspaper. He has Russian ancestors and can speak the language. In war torn Finland he will become a hero.
This is an intelligent thriller, meticulously researched, shining a new light on an old conflict. It is evocative and engaging.
by NetGalley review
Robert Webber still the same incorrigible optimist of his youth that nowadays he likes to think is tempered with a little realism, although some might (and often do) suggest that it is really confusion disguised by recklessness!
Having begun his writing career authoring academic textbooks to support his teaching at universities in both England and Finland, Robert soon realised that there was a novel in his heart struggling to escape. When it finally emerged, it was clear that it had grown into a series.
Robert's debut novel, Carlton's Rise, was well received and began the saga of Alex Carlton's service to his adopted home of Great Britain. How many more in the series? Who knows, but there are plans for at least five.
The beautiful county of Northamptonshire in the heart of England is where Robert lives with his wife and son, both of whom have been the inspiration for his writing.
When not writing, Robert enjoys good food (both cooking and eating it), the theatre from an audience perspective, travelling, photography and spending time with his son doing "boy's" things.