A well-told, well-paced thriller of treachery and remembrance harking back to the grim final years of World War II Germany.
The year is 1980 and Margaret Richardson is an archivist living in the United States. Lately her dreams have been shattering not only her sleep, but her composure. Who is this nightmare hag, with her hateful, spit-flecked bile? Why is her blood-soaked body slumped in death? In this dream world, why is Margaret speaking, with eerie fluency, a language she doesn't know? With unhurried, if not unruffled, dignity, Margaret sets forth to uncover her past, including her mother's unsavory, though not wholly unloving, behavior–is that not her standing shoulder to shoulder with der Fuhrer, in a picture Margaret discovers in her father's desk? The journey introduces a handful of sympathetic characters and reveals a still-dangerous few who wish Margaret no good. These pages contain much old-fashioned rectitude, decency and fitting reserve; the evolution of Margaret and Pieter's affection–Pieter a military man who meets on a flight to Europe and takes a shine to her–has the slow resolve of a golden summer's day. Their passage through the European countryside, with Margaret pursuing both legal and illegal avenues into her family history, has the feel of real experience–"The city was clean, pristineâ€¦ filled with little gardens interspersed at odd junctures, and abundant with clusters of trees." The reader reaches an accommodation with Margaret's father's reticence about speaking of her birth and finds a sweet pleasure in the way his stiff nature gradually bends. Significant segments of the story shift to the motivations of Margaret's mother and to her father's wartime exploits, but the tale circles back to Margaret and Pieter’s quest and the consequence of actions that may lay heads on the chopping block both in the present and the past.
Like good mysteries, this one blossoms petal by petal, while delivering a demur love story in the midst of sinister circumstances.