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Set against a world dominated by an undefeated Third Reich, the Freudian blood feud between mercenary Burton Cole and Oberstgruppenführer Walter Hochburg rages into Madagascar.

Dropping in back story tidbits to bring new readers up to speed, Saville (The Afrika Reich, 2013) opens here after his debut focused on the Cole-engineered attack on Hochburg’s African headquarters, Schädelplatz. Both escape colossal carnage, but Hochburg must cope with a Kongo-wide war—Europeans and Africans have allied and rebelled. Cole returns to London hoping to find Madeleine Cranley, a Jewish Austrian refugee who's pregnant with his child, but the fact that he's lost a hand pales when he discovers that he’s lost Madeleine, with whom he had a passionate connection because the "wounded, the incomplete, seek each other out." When her husband, a British government official, discovered her infidelity, Madeleine was transported to Madagaskar, Hitler’s "grand reservation" for Western Europe’s Jews. Madagaskar is Auschwitz writ large. Most of the bloody action takes place there as Cole pursues Madeleine and in turn is pursued by Hochburg. Saville has the English flair for language—"brogues obese with mud"—and his alternate history (there’s a synopsis of the Reich’s actual Madagaskar-Projekt) gives the bad guys jet airliners, armed hovercraft, and helicopter gunships in 1953. Saville posits a Vanilla Jew Rebellion complicated by Jüdische Polizei and further debauched by an SS that "was riven with jealousy." The (overly long) narrative runs nonstop, rampant with rivers of blood and genocidal murder, ending in double duplicity when Cole learns the motive for Madeleine’s exile and the Jewish guerrillas discover The Ark, repository of "their records, the island’s last safeguard," has been destroyed. Cole and Hochburg flee the island, the latter with Jewish physicists capable of constructing a superweapon, assuring a third volume.

Sophisticated alternative history drenched in relentless R-rated violence.

Pub Date: Aug. 4th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9595-1
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2015


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