THE PALE HOUSE by Luke McCallin


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A German officer pursues the deaths of comrades in arms during the fall of Sarajevo in 1945.

Capt. Gregor Reinhardt has seen service in both the Great War and World War II. Now, he’s being transferred to the elite Feldjaegerkorps, which accepts only decorated soldiers. With his two Iron Crosses, Reinhardt is more than eligible. What makes him less so is his secret membership in a resistance cell, though his hopes of being effective are diminishing daily. En route to a posting in Sarajevo and on the trail of rumored deserters, Reinhardt and his subordinates find three burned bodies of Feldjaeger soldiers and about a dozen massacred civilians. When five more bodies with faces mutilated beyond recognition surface at a military construction site in Sarajevo, Reinhardt, who was a member of the Berlin Kriminalpolizei between the wars, is increasingly convinced that he’s looking at a coverup. Drawn into internecine wars of the Yugoslavian Partisans and the Ustaše (a powerful band of terrorists with whom the Nazis have an uneasy alliance), knowing that Nazi forces are planning to abandon the city, realizing that he’s been a pawn all his military life but determined to follow the investigation to its end, Reinhardt finds a clue in the missing soldbuchs, or soldier’s pay books, that points to corruption. At the center are the Ustaše headquarters in the Pale House and a Nazi penal unit with a growing number of foreign volunteers. Reinhardt’s ties to Suzana Vukíc, whom he knows from a previous case, lead him to a shadowy figure at the heart of Sarajevo’s resistance and to betrayal from all sides. As the city crumbles around him, he has one last chance to follow his own moral compass as he risks his life in a multilayered tale of war, political upheaval and fragile hope.

Although McCallin (The Man from Berlin, 2013) thoughtfully provides a cast list, navigating this convoluted wartime mystery is no easy task. The hero and his personal and professional conflicts, however, are well worth the effort.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-425-26306-8
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Berkley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2014


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