Monday, October 20, 2008

Suspense at the End of WWII

We were recently at the library seeking an engaging Audio Book CD for a long car trip. The Good German by Joseph Kanon (Los Alamos, Alibi, The Prodigal Spy) filled the bill perfectly for us. Jake, an American correspondent who spent time in Berlin before the war, has returned to write about the Allied triumph at the approaching end of the war. His hidden agenda is to search for his German lover Lena, who was married to a Nazi and left behind four years earlier. The quest to find her leads to a series of events initiated by the unexplored discovery of an American soldier found dead in Potsdam with huge quantities of Russian currency on his body. Investigating his death, digging for information in the wrong places, upsetting the military authorities, searching for Lena without discretion, moves him through a compelling tale involving love, murder, espionage, increasing paranoia and tension. Along the way the author explores some important ethical questions about justice and good vs. evil during wartime, and a time of peace.

The Good German is expertly narrated by Stanley Tucci, who "does accents" quite effectively. It was also made into a movie starring George Clooney, Cate Blanchett and Toby Maquire. I anticipate viewing the movie, hoping that they did justice to the book. Kanon vividly and skillfully recreates the city of post-war Berlin, the destruction wrought by the bombing, the loss and emptiness felt by several characters living among the rubble. Because of his vivid descriptions of the city, I recommended it to a friend recently back from Berlin. For good gripping entertainment, it's well worth your time.

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