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The Alphabet House

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  6,971 ratings  ·  848 reviews
In the tradition of Alan Furst, the #1 international bestselling author delivers his first stand-alone novel, a psychological thriller set in World War II Nazi Germany and 1970s England

British pilots James Teasdale and Bryan Young have been chosen to conduct a special photo-reconnaissance mission near Dresden, Germany. Intelligence believes the Nazis are building new fact
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published February 24th 2015 by Dutton (first published November 18th 1997)
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Chris Morris I'm so glad I saw your comment/question. I was also disappointed. It should have been a great book - the basis for the plot is incredible. But the cha…moreI'm so glad I saw your comment/question. I was also disappointed. It should have been a great book - the basis for the plot is incredible. But the characters fell flat, and the plot seemed to pick up steam and then slow down in fits. Department Q books are much better.(less)

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Average rating 3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,971 ratings  ·  848 reviews

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May 04, 2015 rated it liked it

I decided to read this book because I'm a fan of Jussi Adler-Olsen's 'Department Q' mysteries and thought this standalone (written prior to the Dep't. Q books) might be a good read.

As the story opens it's 1944 and World War II is raging. English flyboys Bryan Young and James Teasdale are sent on a mission to do aerial reconnaissance over Germany, where they get shot down.

After some hide-and-seek with German soldiers Bryan and James make their way onto a German medical transport train, throw of

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.

Sometimes plots and ideas don’t just work for some readers. This is one of those books for me. The Alphabet House would make an excellent movie, but as a book it doesn’t quite fly. The story starts with two English fliers in World War II. They get shot down and eventually, after a series of events that do and don’t work, find themselves in the Alphabet House, a hospital for Nazi officers.
The two Brits, Bryant and James, never really seem to come alive as individua
OK. So I wanted to like this book. I really, really did. It had everything I like: asylum, WWII era, historical fiction, a good plot. However, This book just drug ON, and ON, and ON. It was so slow moving, and I found myself really not looking forward to reading it every time I had time to read. It just didn't do it for me. Very creative plot, and had amazing potential for a thriller...just didn't have the thrill aspect. I wish I could have said I loved this book, but sadly it was not all I was ...more
While I received this from Netgalley (a VERY long time ago) in exchange for an honest review, I ended up listening to this book on Audible.

4 stars.

This is a tale of two books.

The first half of is mind-numbingly monotonous and downright boring, almost to the point of putting it on the DNF shelf. The second part is exceedingly suspenseful, complete with violent confrontations, a touch of romance, and a tale of revenge on a trio of monstrous villains. Adler-Olsen touches on the universal themes of
Aug 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
It’s got evil Nazis and narrow escapes. It takes place in a mental hospital staffed with soulless doctors and nurses whose “care” is administered with equal parts cruelty. It’s got betrayal and a swift and certain death sentence for anyone suspected of deception. Add in a pair of World War II British pilots trapped behind enemy lines and faking mental illness to avoid capture.

So what’s not to like?

Plenty, as it turns out.

For most of the first 200 pages Bryan, the novel’s narrator, is lyin
Liz Barnsley
The first thing I have to say is that this must have been extremely well researched, the detail is magnificent, horrifying and yet strangely fascinating. Set in two parts, the first following two friends, trying to evade capture, who end up in a mental institution in Germay, the second portion of the novel deals with the fallout many years later.

I thought this was cleverly done – the first half is fairly slow moving, allowing the story to unfold at a pace that truly allows you to take in what th
Cold War Conversations Podcast
The nature of friendship, war, loyalty, guilt and love told via a brilliant thriller.

I must admit I was expecting a standard World War 2 escape story, and the book does start that way. However, it rapidly descends into a dark place as the two escapees hide on a train reserved for wounded SS men where they end up in a mental hospital where they undergo various brutal treatments whilst trying to maintain their disguise.

This is not one for the faint hearted and the descriptions of the mental hospit
Jan 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
Brian and James are two 20 year old Englishmen that are shot down over Germany in WWII. With a dog patrol on their heals they frantically hop on a German train, which contains SS officers that are ill. They take the place of two of them (yes, they throw two men off the train to do it but at least one of them was dead) and frantically try to do everything they can to fit in and gather information. At the end of their trip they're taken off the train on stretchers and find themselves in an insane ...more
Greg at 2 Book Lovers Reviews
Two WWII British pilots are trapped behind enemy lines in Nazi Germany. This is the story of their desperate attempts of survival, but can they survive with their lives and their sanity?

The Alphabet House is one of those stories where I really have to ask myself, where do authors get these ideas? The story was so well developed and intricate; every minute detail fell perfectly into place.

The story is written in two parts. Part one deals with Bryan and James’ escape from their pursuers, and their
Confession time.... this novel has been on my TBR a long time.  It is the title that has been on my NetGalley shelf the longest. The reason I requested it was solely on the basis of the author as I thoroughly enjoyed his "Dept Q" series of mysteries. This stand-alone is a WWII historical mystery and the author's first novel!

Why did I wait so long???? Well, the book is very long, (over 500 pages), and I was waiting to get in the mood for a WWII novel.  With all the sadness and chaos in the world,
Toni Osborne
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an ambitious psychological thriller that explores the limits of endurance and the irreparable breaches in friendships. This story is extremely detailed and begins in 1944 in the midst of WW11 when a pair of British pilots is shot down over enemy territory.

Right from the first page I was swept along so absorbed by this fantastic story that I hated to put this book down. It starts with an exciting and very tense sky chase, a losing battle for a RAF plane soon shut down in an area swarming
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting psychological story. Caught behind enemy lines in war time.
James and Bryan find themselves in this situation and have to find a way to survive. They steal aboard a medical train and end up in an insane asylum. One understands some German; one doesn't understand a word.
The back story of what makes up a friendship and what holds it together is explored through a torturous situation.
The story is a good one, the writing interesting but a bit uneven. There are days and days of James
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
Interesting plot premise but it should have been 350 pages instead of 500. I loved the authors Department Q crime fiction but unlike Charles Dickens, he's not getting paid by the word - or at least, I hope not! My advice would have been to get Jo Nesbo's editor to read it with a pair of scissors at the ready before publication!
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It is 1944 and two British pilots, James and Bryan, are on a reconnaissance mission over Germany when they are shot down. To escape capture they jump aboard a train that turns out to be carrying wounded SS officers. The pair take the place of two of the officers hoping for a chance to escape unnoticed later. Unfortunately, the chance doesn’t come and they have to act as if they have had some sort of mental breakdown. Their act is so convincing that they are taken to The Alphabet House so named b ...more
Apr 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've come to appreciate the work of this Danish author. He's fast become one of my faves. I've read his 'Department Q' series and have enjoyed them all.

This was a unique and creatively thought out plot, which I have come to expect from him. It had some great twists along the way. He does that well and the same can be said for his characters and their development throughout the story. They are detailed. The author makes them vivid, even when they aren't well liked.

I just never know what I'm goin
RoseMary Achey
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
A tough book to complete-the pace and timing seemed so irregular. The first 200 pages were redundant, however the final portion moved far more quickly.

Great premise, less than well executed.
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book, although just translated into English, was first published in Denmark in 1997, and predated Adler-Olsen’s Department Q detective series.

It tells the story of two British pilots, Bryan Young and James Teasdale, friends from childhood, who were sent on a dangerous aerial reconnaissance mission over Germany during World War II. Their plane is shot down, and the two manage to bail out, but now they are in German territory, somewhat injured, and have no way to get back to the Allies. They
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Alphabet House is not a novel or audio you will consume in a single sitting. Froth with danger and unimaginable decisions the first half of the novel deals with events during the war and their stay at the Alphabet House. The second half begins almost thirty years and shares the consequences those years had on these men.

The characters Bryan and James are beautifully developed and Adler-Olsen brings their thoughts and emotions to life in a very realistic way. As I read, I feared for them, shri
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley, i-reviewed
Fans of Adler-Olsen's Department Q series with Detective Carl Morck will find The Alphabet House quite a different novel. Although billed as a psychological thriller, the uneven pacing, verbosity, and flat characters limit the amount of tension that can build up. It's unfortunate, as the plot is interesting and unusual. It would make a great movie, though.

Adler-Olsen's research into WWII and his firsthand knowledge of asylum life are apparent. I found the scenes in Part I depicting the plane cra
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just revisited the synopsis of the 'Alphabet House', and of course I will be diving in again soon! Cannot express how much I enjoy Mr Jussi Adler-Olsen's work. I am addicted to the 'Department Q' series and was actually a tad hesitant when this one (his first stand-alone) came out. Probably partly because I was weary he may end the Q series and take a different road with his work. I came to the realization while reading 'The Alphabet House' that it is not his storylines which have hooked me, rat ...more
Mar 13, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was very disappointed with this story. For anyone considering this book because it has been said it is similar to Alan Furst's writings, don't be fooled. The WWII portion of the story is poorly done. I can't tell if it was just horrible editors, or something lost in the translation. I have one pet peeve with WWII historical fiction - it needs to be well researched and historically accurate - at least to the extent it can be to fit the fictional writing. One thing that got me in this book is th ...more
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Alphabet House is a psychological thriller that begins in WWII. Childhood friends, James and Bryan are in the RAF and shot down while on a photo recon mission in Germany. Ending up in Alphabet House, they endure beatings, shock treatments and pills. Bryan does escape, bringing the reader thirty years later in Part Two. This Danish author skillfully brings this powerful, descriptive and disturbing novel to its ultimate ending. The traumatic events that occurred in this novel leave the reader ...more
Feb 26, 2015 rated it did not like it
Having read the Department Q series and enjoying the well developed characters, humor and the solving of cold cases I was looking forward to the Alphabet House by the same author. Before purchasing it, I read a summary and thought the plot to be original and intriguing. The story involved two British bomber pilots shot down in German territory during WW2. To avoid capture they assume the identities of two high ranking Nazi officers and are hiding in a mental hospital for elite officers who have ...more
Linda  Branham Greenwell
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, fiction, historical
A different type of reading than my usual style - and a different type of novel from Mr. Adler-Olsen's as far as that goes
The first part of this book is set in WWII in Germany. Two British pilots are forced down in German territory. They find refuge by taking the place of two German soldiers who are being sent to a mental institution. They must take on the roles of German soldiers who are mentally ill in order to keep from being caught. The British soldiers are James and Bryan - the soldiers who
This would be the worse book I have ever read. The plot was ridiculous, the concept unbelievable and the ending pure farce.
Two English flyers (friends since youth) escape from their burning aircraft after they had been shot down over Germany in WWII. They escape capture by jumping onto a passing train, full of wounded (physically and mentally) SS officers. They take the place of two of the officers and spend almost the next 12 months in a mental hospital pretending they are (1) German, (2) suffe
Jan 25, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, brother, what a piece of dreck. Stupid beyond belief. Clive Cussler meets Perils of Pauline stupid.
Stupid squared. Stupid the the power of one thousand. Stupider than the dress I wore to dancing class in eighth grade - and you can't get stupider than that.
May 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, dead-tree
Good but unnecessarily long. The translation was kind of clunky, too. Still, I was on the edge of my seat for a good bit of this book.
Apr 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015-reads
I couldn’t describe the book any better so from the book cover:

“During World War 2, two British pilots, James and Bryan, are shot down over Germany. They know that they will be executed if taken hostage. Pursued by German dog patrols, they manage to escape by jumping on to a German hospital train transporting mentally deranged German SS-officers away from the front. James and Bryan throw a couple of patients off the train so that they can occupy their sick beds, hoping to make an escape later on
Bernard Jan
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Experiments on humans are not a novelty in our humanity-deprived society, but in a psychological thriller The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler-Olsen set in a WW2 Nazi Germany and post-Nazi Europe, to be more precise England and Germany, are as shocking as the war itself and destruction it had left in lives and minds of those who survived it.

The world of two RAF pilots and good friends James and Bryan crashes down with the crash of their plane during a special photo-reconnaissance mission near Dresd
Luanne Ollivier
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm a huge fan of Jussi Adler-Olsen's Department Q mysteries featuring Detective Carl Morck.

I thought it was the next entry in the series, but it's actually an older stand alone book from Adler-Olsen making a North America debut.

Two British pilots, James Teasdale and Bryan Young are doing flyover photo reconnaissance of a German town during WW2 when their plane is shot down. In an attempt to avoid capture, they jump on a train of wounded German soldiers. And finally in desperation, they throw tw
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Jussi Adler-Olsen is a Danish author who began to write novels in the 1990s after a comprehensive career as publisher, editor, film composer for the Valhalla cartoon and as a bookseller.

He made his debut with the thriller “Alfabethuset” (1997), which reached bestseller status both in Denmark and internationally just like his subsequent novels “And She Thanked the Gods” (prev. “The Company Basher”)

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