The Chocolate Assassin by Peter Durantine
|The Chocolate Assassin by Peter Durantine|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: An old U-boat captain is found murdered in his American beach home. It seems that the clues lie more than half a century in the past. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: July 2010|
In the final days of the Second World War, as the allied guns came ever closer, a young German was sent on a secret mission to America. He was only in his late teens but still resisted telling anyone, including the U-boat captain who took him across the Atlantic, about the nature of his mission. Fifty five years later the U-boat captain, Eric Hoest, long settled in the States, was murdered at his beach home. Samuel Grey, police detective and part-time student was called in to investigate the murder. The local police chief thought that the most likely murderer was the neighbour who had reported the crime, but Grey suspected that the truth was hidden somewhere in Hoest's background.
It's a complex investigation which will take Grey back across more than half a century of history and over to Europe to talk to the people who knew of Martin Hahn, the young German with a mission, or Eric Hoest, a man with his own views about how the war was being fought and lost. Not everyone wants to talk to Grey – even about events which happened more than half a century before, but how much of this is down to the fact that he's black and talking to people who believe in the purity of the Aryan race? And how much is about their guilt, not about what happened then, but about what's happening now? Above all, how do you track down someone who came to the USA secretly, so long ago?
When I started this book I was convinced that I would struggle to work out who was who and what was going on. That lasted for, oh, half a dozen pages and after that I struggled to put the book down. There's a wealth of background in there but the book wears it lightly. It's fascinating to read about Hershey and chocolate, about submarines and the problems they had with fuel, about how some old-time Nazis survive against all the odds. There are some new angles on an era which has been overworked in the literary field.
None of this would matter though if the plot wasn't good and the characters compelling. I liked Grey. He comes off the page well, with human frailties and too much to do to make time for a personal life. He leads the story, but doesn't overwhelm it. The Germans – Hahn and Hoest – are impressive, the one with Prussian stiffness and a belief in the Fatherland and the other knowing that the Third Reich has but limited time. They're an elegant contrast but a strong partnership.
The plot is twisty and very satisfying. You no sooner think that you have it worked out than everything changes. It's an easy read and a fast read because it really is difficult to put down, but you will have to think about what's there on the page to get the best out of it. Highly recommended.
I'd like to thank the author for sending a copy to the Bookbag and I really do hope that there will be more to read from him soon.
If this type of book appeals to you then you might also enjoy a browse through our Top Ten War Novels.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Chocolate Assassin by Peter Durantine at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Chocolate Assassin by Peter Durantine at Amazon.com.
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