Gerald Sinstadt's Reviews > The Good German

The Good German by Joseph Kanon
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Aug 01, 10

bookshelves: crime
Read from July 07 to 15, 2010

An American soldier's body is found floating in Berlin shortly before Churchill and company arrive for the 1945 postwar conference. Thousands of occupation marks were being carried by the man who proves not to have drowned but to have been shot. An American journalist long resident in Berlin chances on the story and so begins an engrossing novel, on one level a whodunnit and why, but overall a reflection on many moral issues.

The book is long, the meticulously detailed plotting needs concentration, and the shoot-outs would be implausible in many locales though not in this place and time. Kanon's gift for evoking the atmosphere of Berlin in the immediate aftermath of relentless warfare is unsurpassed (cf my review elsewhere of David Downing's Zoo Station). The principal characters, too, are many-facetted, drawn with clear eyes for human weakness and unsentimental sympathy for victims of a disaster not of their own making.

If you look for pace and characters in black and white, Kanon is not for you; if you want a thriller to make you think you will find few better than The Good German.
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