"This novel is absolutely worth the time to read. A gripping story with plenty of twists and turns, it is a careful portrait of the controlling powers in Germany just before the Second World War. "
I had been a fan of Kommisar Roland Saxon since reading Zugwang so I leapt at the chance to read more of this brilliant character.
Saxon, a police commissioner in Munich, is seconded to Berlin to help out with security for the 1936 Olympic Games. His predecessor has mysteriously vanished and he is unsure why or where he's gone. The Third Reich are in control and signs of what is to come are already visible, the cleansing of the streets of undesirables just the start. Saxon does as he's told in arresting vagabonds, prostitutes and other people who can't account for their presence, and is required to send them to what is a concentration camp, but his interpretation of the law differs to his SS colleagues and he is not at all convinced that the detainees will ever see freedom again. When people start to go missing and letters from The White Knight are being hand-delivered to the police, Saxon starts to get suspicious and he reasons that maybe all is not as it seems. He must tread carefully or he may suffer the same fate as his predecessor.
Although not quite as polished as Zugwang (I spotted a few typos), this novel is absolutely worth the time to read. A gripping story with plenty of twists and turns, it is a careful portrait of the controlling powers in Germany just before the Second World War. The layers of authority are mind-boggling and would be hilarious if it were not accurate and the precursor to full Nazi control and a police state, so many different police authorities and the army, all vying for importance, myriad uniforms and titles.
Despite the setting and the connotations that one wants to draw, this is not pro-Nazi in any way. It, instead, highlights that ordinary Germans were over-taken by a minority that forced themselves on the public, that not everyone agreed with Nazi party policies; many tried to get away, and that the Jews were persecuted even at the Games. Saxon may be German, but he's no Nazi. He is a police officer who cares for the right of law but wielded with a gloved hand, with humanity that he finds lacking in the Gestapo and the SS that he's forced to work with.
With the D-Day commemorations still vibrating as I write this, it was a timely read, a reminder that it was ordinary Germans who suffered first and many liked what was happening to their country no more than the Allies.
A great read, thought-provoking, startling even, and a great story that really engages.
© Nicky Galliers