Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Night & Fog

Karl Schumacher is a major in the SS whose job it is to select those prisoners arriving at Sachsenhausen concentration camp who will be worked to death or shot.  He is also a homosexual who must hide his proclivity or face a fate similar to his selectees.  A surprisingly tender liaison with a young gypsy begins to turn Karl from his Nazi loyalties and he hatches a plan to escape.

Night and Fog has a few issues.  The homosexual sex scenes are not gratuitously depicted—for which I was grateful—but the conversion of the gypsy boy seemed much too easy.  There are several historical errors, anachronisms and illogical events that should have been avoided.  The dialogue is unconvincing and occasionally sounds too much like twenty-first century American English.  It is however, an interesting and sometimes thoughtful look at the Holocaust from a different perspective.

149,760 Words
Price $8.99  (Personally I think it's overpriced)
Buy at Smashwords 

Buy at Amazon

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Versailles Legacy

We first met Erich von Schellendorf, née Foster, in 1912 when estrangement from his overbearing father drives him to finish school, not at Cambridge as planned, but at his mother’s ancestral home of Heidelberg.  His love for the capricious daughter of a Prussian Baron and retired cavalry officer moves him to enlist in the military for a term that inescapably draws him into the war on the German side.  Fast forward to 1933 and we find Lieutenant Colonel von Schellendorf training a military equestrian team for the infamous 1936 Olympics that Hitler so badly wants to support his contention of Aryan supremacy.  Erich’s unswerving loyalties to both Germany and his wife are sorely tested by Hitler’s brutal fanaticism and Britt’s unresponsiveness.  Erich finds solace in horsemanship and the camaraderie of his team until a British spy and a honey trap threaten to unhinge his entire existence.

Through the lens of retrospection, the Treaty of Versailles could have led to only one outcome.  It, in essence, created Hitler and the Nazis.  Lyn Alexander’s sequel to The Officers’ Code offers an insightful look into the collective mind of a defeated power via the psyche of an eyewitness.  The emotional tension building within Erich von Schellendorf as the Nazis rise and his marriage sinks is shown to us with masterful style.  The brilliant character development of Britt, from the damaged victim of incest to a manipulative wife, in deep denial of fratricide, who uses the withholding of affection as a weapon, is as penetrating as any ever created by the likes of Hemingway.  Lyn Alexander knows Germany, horses and human emotion and she knows how to bring all that knowledge to the page.  The Versailles Legacy is a great sequel and a terrific standalone story.

Only available in paperback at this time, but I'm nagging Lyn to go digital.
Buy at Amazon

Friday, January 3, 2014

Lena's Bequest by Paul Ross

Gardening was all that Lena had in mind when she rented an isolated house in the empty flatland of Northwestern Ohio.  That changed abruptly the day an elderly stranger with an eastern European accent startled her while she was tilling the soil.  That unnerving event set in motion a deadly treasure hunt populated hick sheriffs, a Russian mobster and his rapine grandsons, spies, refugees and the specter of her absent father.  Karl, the mysterious stranger, fed Lena, in tidbits, a story of her late father’s astounding life and unlikely bequest.  Lena is a very capable young woman with street smarts who never really trusts Karl, as well she shouldn’t, but the lure of a treasure hunt and the credibility lent to it by the attention of mobsters tempts her to go along.  Karl insists that the search must begin in New York City where Lena is stunned to learn that she owns healthy bank accounts and a midtown apartment.  Then the trail gets hot.

Lena’s Bequest is told in flashbacks to Stalin’s purges in the Ukraine.  The story of her father’s escape from murder, starvation, deportation and his eventual flight to the west is a disturbingly truthful look at the conditions in, and as a result of, the Gulag.  How the atrocities of those decades of institutionalized starvation, slavery, torture and murder might impact a modern woman grappling with life in twenty-first century America is a highly plausible and fascinating tale.  Paul Ross has an extremely well written and researched book that will appeal to history lovers, fans of action and suspense as well as readers who like a strong female lead character.

Price: $4.99
112,860 Words