“A literary tour de force on par with Mark Sullivan’s Beneath a Scarlet Sky.” —Samuel Marquis
In the spring of 1944, I realized that I was not going to survive the war…
Shtefan Brandt, adjutant to a colonel of the Waffen SS, has made it through the war so far in spite of his commander’s habit of bringing his staff into combat, and a pair of secrets that are far more dangerous than the battlefield. Shtefan is a Mischling and one of the thousands of German citizens of Jewish descent who have avoided the death camps by concealing themselves in the ranks of the German army. And he is in love with Gabrielle Belmont, the colonel’s French mistress. Either of those facts could soon mean his end, were Colonel Erich Himmel to notice.
Colonel Himmel has other concerns, however. He can see the war’s end on the horizon and recognizes that he is not on the winning side, no matter what the reports from Hitler’s generals may say. So he has taken matters into his own hands, hatching a plot to escape Europe. To fund his new life, he plans to steal a fortune from the encroaching Allies. A fortune that Shtefan, in turn, plans to steal from him…
Atmospheric and intense, The Soul of a Thief captures the turbulent emotional rush of those caught behind the lines of occupied France, where one false step could spell death, and every day brings a new struggle to survive.
Hanover Square Press is home to compelling, original fiction and nonfiction titles that keep you up all night reading and that you want to talk about the next morning.
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Hartov (In the Company of Heroes) bleakly depicts the fate of the Mischlinge half- and quarter-Jews who fought, sometimes of their own free will, for the Third Reich in this rich if detached novel. In spring 1944 Shtefan Brandt, young adjutant to SS Colonel Himmel, fears he may not survive the war after Himmel begins volunteering his brigade for some of the war's bloodiest battles. Born into a family of Jewish heritage, Shtefan (at least on paper) is now a Catholic. But if his true identity were to come out, it would likely be a death sentence. As the war teeters toward defeat for the Germans, Himmel, who believes the war is lost, lets his trusted assistant in on his plan to steal a fortune and flee Europe after the Allies claim victory. Shtefan is attracted to Himmel's mistress, Gabrielle, who is also embroiled in Himmel's plans. As Gabrielle and Shtefan get closer and the war closes in, they plot a life away from Himmel and the Nazis that involves stealing the fortune for themselves. Hartov's book isn't short on emotion, but the narration lacks immediacy and the characters' often calm, rational demeanors tend to feel out of step with the tense and deadly situations confronting them. Despite this, the wealth of details about Shtefan's dangerous position as a Mischlinge makes for an engrossing account of a lesser-known side of the war. , This review has been corrected; an earlier version stated Shtefan was from a Jewish family and planned to steal Nazi gold.