BLACK PHOENIX by George Bernau


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 Bernau (Candle in the Wind, 1990; Promises to Keep, 1988) fails to make an unoriginal story worth telling as he surmises what would have happened if Adolf Hitler, instead of killing himself in 1945 in Berlin, had escaped across the globe with a plan to destroy the world. As WW II nears its end, Major Thomas Sheridan, a member of the US Army's Counter Intelligence Corps, has come to Berlin to investigate a threatening microbe called Phoenix. He is accompanied by Debra Marks, a sexy British naval officer. Their adventures begin at a destroyed Nazi facility where scientists developed the microbe and tested it on concentration camp prisoners; there the duo find the body (or so they think) of Joseph Goebbels, dead by suicide. Meanwhile, for reasons that remain obscure, the Nazis kidnap Angelique von Stahl, a renowned and skillful German pilot, and take her to a secluded mountain retreat where she meets Goebbels himself, who had faked his suicide. Sheridan and Marks follow the Nazis from Berlin to Buenos Aires, where a series of plot twists makes for a predictable ending in which our heroes discover that Hitler, who has also not committed suicide, is the mastermind of Phoenix. The characters, both fictional and historical, are one-dimensional; the writing is full of hackneyed phrases (``Stevenson's entire body filled with fear''; ``sheets of flames...roared into the night sky''). The work flirts briefly with the reader's imagination but generally falls flat.

Pub Date: April 14th, 1994
ISBN: 0-446-51610-4
Page count: 336pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1994