'The highest form of thriller . . . non-stop excitement' The Times
NOW AVAILABLE: THE SECOND SLEEP, ROBERT HARRIS'S LATEST NOVEL
What if Hitler had won the war?
It is April 1964 and one week before Hitler's 75th birthday. Xavier March, a detective of the Kriminalpolizei, is called out to investigate the discovery of a dead body in a lake near Berlin's most prestigious suburb.
As March discovers the identity of the body, he uncovers signs of a conspiracy that could go to the very top of the German Reich. And, with the Gestapo just one step behind, March, together with an American journalist, is caught up in a race to discover and reveal the truth - a truth that has already killed, a truth that could topple governments, a truth that will change history.
An eerie, detailed alternate history serves as the backdrop for this otherwise conventional crime thriller. The setting is Berlin, 1964, some 20 years after the Third Reich's victory in WW II. Germany and the U.S., the world's two superpowers, find themselves in a cold war resulting from a nuclear stalemate; but U.S. President Joseph P. Kennedy is soon to visit Berlin for an historic summit meeting with Hitler, clearing the way for detente. Meanwhile, cynical police detective Xavier March investigates the drowning of Josef Buhler, former state secretary in the General Government. When the Gestapo takes over the case--ruling it suicide--March continues his investigation at the risk of his life, uncovering a deadly conspiracy at the highest levels of the Reich. With the help of American reporter Charlotte Maguire, he finds hard evidence of the wartime extermination of Europe's Jews, a secret that Buhler and his colleagues have been murdered to protect. Of course March and Maguire fall in love along the way. Harris ( Selling Hitler ) generates little suspense in this tale beyond his piecemeal rendering of the novel's unusual historical setting. The characters are flat and the plot largely predictable. And readers may well question the taste of using the Holocaust as the point of departure for a rather insubstantial, derivative thriller. 75,000 first printing; BOMC selection.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Daunting and chilling
This is the second book of Robert Harris’ that I have read, the first one being 'An Officer and a Spy'. While the latter book shows Harris’s maturity as a writer, this, his first book, is a slow-starter with an excellent climax. An excellent premise for a book - an exploration of the German Reich’s barbaric history through the eyes of a people ignorant of the truth in 1964 - and the convincing character of the protagonist, a Detective in the SS who stumbles onto a murder case he should never have investigated, lead to an ending both thrilling and appalling. Now to read another of his books!
I've always enjoyed Harris' work. This one never disappoints. It does drag slightly towards the end, but the characters are believable and the setting is frightening. Give it a go before dismissing it.
Not a classic
This is essentially a novice work which fails to fulfil its interesting premise. Robert Harris has gone on to write better books. Its inclusion in the iBookstore's list of essential 20th Century Classic books rather make a mockery of the selection process.