In 1922, in a small town in the Maritimes, an unusual boy with an unusual name is adopted by a Baptist family of chocolate makers. With his copy of Plain Facts for Young and Old by the cereal king, Dr. Kellogg, to guide him, young Kurtis De’ath, a natural polyglot, comes to terms with a world he has only experienced through reading. At work in the family business, he becomes highly skilled at crafting Bird Bonz, and befriends Cinnamon Jim, a family relation of low I.Q. and phenomenal sales ability, who teaches Kurtis how to look-see, the art of deciphering people’s predilections and, ominously, how to fulfill them. At the beginning of the Great Depression, in Montréal he opens a tutoring business in a boarding house managed by Madame Laframboise, whose nephew is emerging Quebecois Jesuit poet, Francois Hertel. Kurtis is enticed by Lord Beaverbrook to join the Toronto Star and, later, to travel to Germany for the Toronto Globe with colleague, Erland Echland. They interview the rising man of Europe, Mr. Adolf Hitler, who is intrigued by ‘Herr Death.’ A free ticket to Wagner’s Siegfried at the Bayreuth Festival leads to a job as private secretary to Winifred Wagner and the Shokoladenmann, maker of fine chocolates for the four Wagner children. A master of detail, Kurtis probes the people and perversions at the very heart of National Socialism, not the least of whom, Adolf Hitler, has plans for his mysterious new confidant, Herr Death.
Set in multiple locales in Canada, America, France, Germany, and England, before and during the Second World War, Volume One of The Reflecting Man is the antic, ribald journey of a loquacious and unreliable narrator, Kurtis De’ath, from the Maritimes in Canada, whose unusual talents lead him into the innermost circles of Hitler’s Third Reich and Churchill’s British government. Kurtis’ journey through the roots and branches of actual historical figures and events is, at its heart, in meticulous detail, an examination of how Europe went to war in 1939. The Reflecting Man is himself a reflection of his times. The novel is widely and deeply researched, employing hundreds of non-fiction accounts, journals, and diaries of actual participants and observers of the darkening clouds over Europe and the descent into war.