Book lover. Stephen King Fanatic. Will try anything once. General Lover of Fiction. Reviewer Everywhere. All views my own. Mostly.
Publication Date: Available now from Hesperus Press.
Source: Publisher review copy.
Germany, World War II. Two English pilots are shot down and crash land behind enemy lines. The area swarming with German troops, they have only minutes to crawl from the wreckage and make their escape.
Boarding a train reserved for wounded SS men on the way home from the eastern front, they ditch their clothing and personal belongings and pose as German soldiers, hiding for days in soiled, bloody beds, feigning unconsciousness. But their act is too convincing and they find find themselves being transferred to Alphabet House, a mental hospital for those damaged by war. How will they escape? And for how long can you simulate insanity without going crazy for real?
The first thing I have to say is that this must have been extremely well researched, the detail is magnificent, horrifying and yet strangely fascinating. Set in two parts, the first following two friends, trying to evade capture, who end up in a mental institution in Germay, the second portion of the novel deals with the fallout many years later.
I thought this was cleverly done – the first half is fairly slow moving, allowing the story to unfold at a pace that truly allows you to take in what these two friends are going through – descriptively speaking it is very disturbing but absolutely compelling, you can’t look away. The second half is faster moving, also difficult to review properly without spoilers, but for me it made a tale of two halves if you like – and the ending was unexpected.
Very different from the “Department Q” series but still with the author’s unique style – this is not a war story as much as it is a story of friendship under extreme circumstances, character driven throughout, often violent but always engaging and thought provoking. I can see that it will not be for everyone, but I found it to be an excellent and moving story, haunting and evocative, with some truly edge of the seat moments.
Overall a very good read indeed.
Happy Reading Folks!