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 Long but largely rewarding first thriller in which the apparent suicide of imprisoned Nazi Rudolf Hess sets the KGB, the Stasi, the CIA, Israelis, South Africans, and the Berlin police to chasing each other and some embarrassing papers--which may or may not have been written by Mr. Hess, who may or may not have been Mr. Hess. It's the late 80's, and the cracks in the Eastern bloc are just starting to show. Berlin is still controlled by the WW II Allied powers, who've spent millions to keep Hess locked up in Spandau Prison. It was Hess who made the mysterious flight to England at the beginning of the war, supposedly to seek a separate peace through negotiations with sympathetic aristocrats. Now, the prisoner has hung himself. Or has he? He's certainly dead, but it may have been murder. There has always been doubt about his identity--and the Russians have always been strangely adamant about paroling the old fascist. Then, as Spandau is being razed, Hans Apfel, a young German policeman, finds a hidden sheaf of papers written in Latin by the old prisoner, a document that, if released, will prove immensely embarrassing to a number of people, including the British royal family, a good hunk of the British aristocracy, and far too many German policemen on both sides of the Iron Curtain. A long line forms to try to get the papers back from Apfel, who wants to sell them, and his pretty wife Ilse, who wants to turn them in. Things become terribly violent terribly quickly, and Hans has to accept help from his estranged father, the best cop in Berlin.... The central mystery, why Hess went to England and why so many people don't want the truth to get out, isn't quite interesting enough to last the great length here. It's up to a few heroic, middle-aged policemen to hang onto the reader. They're usually successful.

Pub Date: May 6th, 1993
ISBN: 0-525-93604-1
Page count: 576pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1993


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