Marcellus’ (Jubal’s Gold, 2014, etc.) thriller considers the possibility that Hitler did not, in fact, commit suicide.
The story opens on Oct. 5, 2014, with Paul Keasler, a 93-year-old German, admiring his secret stash of Nazi memorabilia. It’s quickly revealed that Keasler’s true identity is Otto Beck, a former Nazi still faithful to Hitler. He began a journal in 1945, right after he was assigned to work closely with Hitler on a special project. While Keasler thumbs through the book, an assassin breaks into his home and kills him. That assassin belongs to a secret organization called Nakam (the Hebrew word for vengeance) devoted to hunting down Nazis who escaped Germany—and punishment—at the end of World War II. FBI Special Agent Frazier is assigned to the case and recruits the help of professor Michael Grayson, an expert on all things Nazi. With the help of Angela Brown, a young woman raised by Keasler but unaware of his nefarious background, Grayson tries to piece together the puzzle of the murder and its broader, historical implications. Alongside the narrative are excerpts from Beck’s journal, which discloses a plot to fake Hitler’s death before being trapped by invading Russians. Interestingly, Grayson always suspected this was true, but he lacked sufficient evidence to prove it. Now that they’re in possession of the journal—Keasler had put it back into a hidden drawer before his demise—Grayson and Angela are zealously pursued by Nakam vigilantes, who have a deadly agenda of their own. Flashes of violence punctuate the briskly paced action; however, while readers will never want for clarity, dialogue can be stiff, even halting: “ ‘I don’t like this,’ he whispered. ‘Just walk, don’t run anymore and act normal.’ ‘Normal? I don’t know what that is anymore!’ she replied.” The novel revolves around an outlandish historical hypothesis—what if Hitler got away and still lives?—but sometimes that outlandishness pushes the envelope even further: might there be a treasure map in that journal? As such, the plot aims for—and hits—entertainment rather than stark realism.
A fun, fantastical adventure in historical revisionism.