KATASTROPHE by Randall Boyll


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Deadpan satire, a first hardcover packaged as a serious effort from thriller writer Boyll (Chiller, etc.), featuring an absent-minded academic who fears he's the reincarnated spirit of Adolf Hitler.

The morning after perpetually befuddled Indiana State University junior prof Hank Thorwald accompanies his nicotine-addicted wife Rebecca to a quit-smoking-by-hypnosis seminar at a comfortingly bland Terre Haute motel, he discovers he’s fluent in German and doesn’t care much for Jews. In distant Deutschland, Karl-Luther von Wessenheim, a fanatical collector of Nazi memorabilia, becomes intrigued when a rival collector tells him of a cabal hoping to clone Hitler from bones (his remains were never identified at the end of WWII) or a DNA extract from a dandruff flake clinging to the sweatband of Adolf’s old top hat. Back in Indiana, Alan Weston, a sleazy (and Jewish) tabloid TV host who fabricates his Jerry Springer–like exposés, frequents biker bars, wondering if he’ll ever find the big scoop that will bring back his dwindling TV audience and help him atone for a botched marriage. Weston finds his scoop when he attends a party and sees mesmerizing ISU Professor Perry Wilson hypnotize Thorwald again. After performing a few silly stunts, Thorwald states in German that his real name is Adolf Hitler. An appearance on Weston's TV show proves the fame can be a drag when people Thorwald never met—including von Wessenheim's crackpot crew—assume that that evil is what evil says and that Thorwald’s sudden celebrity is the fulfillment of Hitler’s promise: the Third Reich shall rise again.

Bilingual puns, madcap plotting, pop culture send-ups and delightfully dreadful dialogue may annoy readers expecting another Boys from Berlin. “This whole thing is not only preposterous,” one character laments, “but an obvious setup.” Indeed.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-06-019236-4
Page count: 560pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2000