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The unsinkable Howard Fast returns, still profitably afloat after nearly five decades in the chancy swells and shallows of popular fiction (Seven Days in June, 1994, etc.). Again, as in this latest tale of a man wrestling with the death of his wife in Nazi Germany, there are--predictably: characters dwarfed or stereotyped by a sky-high Message; a Fast-moving plot spattered with violence; and that brisk, snap-brimmed narration that's netted a readership for the author's 80-plus novels since the days of Spartacus (1951). Here, the story concerns MIT engineering student Scott Waring and his bride, Martha, both from well-to-do families. Scott's father is an aviation consultant to FDR, and his grandfather--who presented him with a Webley automatic pistol on his 16th birthday--had a heavy military past. The newlyweds sail to France in 1939 on the Queen Mary (where a German official seems most interested in Scott's family), and then decide to go to Berlin to observe the ""crazy"" Nazis in situ. They're in a crowd listening to Hitler when Scott on an impulse (!) fingers the Webley, and true hell breaks loose. Martha is tortured to death, but Scott escapes with the help of Berthe, a Jewish brothel madam. His life at home, however, becomes an arid affair of guilt and grief. He even attempts to assume a Jewish identity, but a psychiatrist helps him overcome that. (""Stop being a horse's ass"" is the subtle advice.) Finally, at 35, Scott meets Janet Goldman, a young dancer who suffered unspeakable childhood abuse in a concentration camp. And, despite a visit to Scott's family (a tower of WASP clich‚s), the two will find a way to love. Once more, the message is broadcast at top volume, but Fast has his tolerant, steady following.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1563246910
Page count: 180pp
Publisher: Sharpe