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Fatherland Fatherland
By Robert Harris
Thorndike Press, (1992)
ISBN: 1560548959
Genre: Mystery - thriller/science fiction

Other Editions: Standard Print - Paperback | Standard Print - Hardcover | Audio Cassette - Abridged

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - March 8, 2001

Robert Harris' novel, Fatherland, is set in the year 1964 and in a world where a Kennedy is in the White House and Hitler is about to celebrate his 75th birthday. A few days before the huge birthday bash SS Sturmbannfuhrer Xavier March, a homicide investigator with the Kriminalpolizei, is called in to investigate a body that has just been pulled from the Havel river. Thus begins March's transformation from a state cog to conscientious individual who knows the 'truth' about what really went on during the war.

Xavier March is a former U-boat commander, who joined the SS because he was ordered to do so, not out of any political convictions. He is divorced and has a son who is the perfect little Nazi. March is loyal to his country, but not particularly to the government. A bit of a maverick, his life is his work and he is willing to step outside the lines to solve a case. When March discovers that the body pulled from the river is that of a high-ranking Nazi official, who has been murdered, he immediately buckles down to the task of solving the crime. During his investigation March becomes embroiled in a conspiracy and begins to uncover the truth of what happened to all the Jews that disappeared into the 'East'. Even when ordered to halt his investigation, March doggedly pursues the case till the bitter end.

Throughout this novel, Harris adheres to the 'facts' as much as possible, and extrapolates an all too realistic world in which the Third Reich still reigns supreme. He takes this extrapolation to the point of showing that despite their supremacy there are forces tugging at the seams of the German's well-ordered existence. A few tugs in the right places and their whole world would fall into chaos, analogous to the fall of the Soviet Union.

This is a convincing and riveting tale. It is well plotted and has some interesting twists that will surprise you. But be forewarned, this is a depressing novel, which it should be, considering the setting and the people involved in the story.

Two other books by Robert Harris were also published in large print, Enigma and Archangel.

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