THE MASK OF TIME by Marius Gabriel


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A satisfying Nazi/Cold War potboiler by the author of The Original Sin (1992) that turns on the heat at the start and doesn't let up until the kettle shrieks 592 pages later. World War II has just ended. A beautiful peasant girl in Italy dies giving birth to an illegitimate daughter, Catarina, while a man named Joseph tries to convince the Russians in charge of a Displaced Persons camp in Latvia that he is an American and should be sent home. Meanwhile, David, a seductive but penniless Englishman home from the war, reels in Evelyn, a woman with the money and connections he's been waiting for. Then we're back to the future in 1992. A glamorous Vail resort director named Kate (the grown-up Catarina, as it turns out) is engrossed in researching an American POW who disappeared into the Soviet gulag after the war -- while a shadowy figure sets a sadistic killer on Kate's trail. The killer catches up to her, ransacking her house and leaving her in a coma. Kate's daughter Anna, an investigative reporter, arrives to coax her mother back to consciousness, and stays to find out who her mother was looking for and who tried to have her killed. It all leads back to Joseph and David, as the story continues to unfold in both the past (with engrossing descriptions of wartime and postwar hardship and romance) and the present (with lots of formulaic romance and heavy-handed villainy). Anna switches with dizzying speed from intrigue to interior decorating as she puzzles out her mother's mystery with the help of Philip Westward, a suave millionaire she doesn't quite trust but falls madly in love with. It's all a bit much at times, as Anna remarks to her still-unconscious mother: ""Life's a hitch. You in here, Evelyn dying all alone in England. And I'm in love with the most wonderful man I've ever known. And I'm so happy, so sad, so confused."" But she rallies and, with Philip's help, manages to survive an over-the-top encounter with an aging Nazi and solve her mother's mystery -- and Philip's -- both of which have to do with false identities and missing fathers. Despite the usual genre cliches and an occasional jarring note of sexism, this is a well-paced and engaging read.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1994
Page count: 592pp
Publisher: Bantam