Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Unique WWII Story

Bryan and James, two Brits on a reconnaissance mission over Nazi Germany, are shot down. They manage to board a train carrying high level SS officers. To keep from being captured and shot, they throw two of the patients off the train and take their place. Impersonating the officers, they pretend to be too shell shocked to speak and are taken to a mental hospital. The competing problems for the two men are how to avoid detection and how to maintain their sanity with the shock treatments and pills they are given.

Even as fiction, this book is not convincing. The plot is full of fantastical adventures starting with the two airmen being able to clamber aboard the hospital train. Part of the reason the plot didn't work for me is that the characters are not well developed. It's hard to differentiate them and as a result it's difficult to become emotionally involved.

The research is good. It adds another dimension to the horrors of the Nazi medical establishment, but the pace is inconsistent. In the first half, harrowing action scenes are followed by scenes with little action. In the second half the pace is more consistent and faster, but still it didn't draw me in.

The book was written in 1997 and is very different from Adler-Olsen's other novels and not as well done. The writing in the first half is particularly choppy, but perhaps this is due to the translation.

I can't recommend this book unless you're interested in unusual stories of WWII.

I received this book from Penguin-Random House for this review.