Spy thrillers, WW2 mystery thrillers are genres I rarely touch these days. I couldn’t get enough of it when I was younger but I soon grew weary of it and (perhaps unfairly) stopped reading it altogether. I am pleased to have been presented with the opportunity when signing up for theindieview.com to be introduced to some modern works by indie published authors and perhaps rekindle the curiosity I once had for fiction set around international politics.
The story flits between two time periods – Nazi era Czechoslovakia and modern day Berlin and London. We are introduced in the earlier period to Hans Shreiber, a horrific and truly sadistic SS Officer; we are given a thorough summary and left in no doubt that this man was an utter psychopath. This narrative is carefully woven along with the modern stories as two reporters investigating the murders of Jewish Londoners (the first a cab driver). In their investigation they learn of Schreiber and come to understand that he is now in modern Britain – their goal is to discover his modern identity. The job of the authorities after learning this information is to figure out who he is. Though not a page-turner, it is not dull by any stretch of the imagination. The writer bides his time, careful to set the plot out clearly and tell us what we need to know when we need to know it. In this, he keeps our curiosity piqued.
This is one of the better edited examples of the indie published work I have read in the last few months. All credit to the writer and his beta readers. The text flows well and has the right feel for the genre; the writer has emulated the expected style very well. This is not the sort of genre that I read very often these days though I used to read a lot of it in my teens and twenties. Though my attention drifted at times, that is far more to do with my lack if interest than any flaw in the writing – congratulations to the writer for keeping my attention in the long run.
Some have commented on the graphic violence, and it certainly is but it doesn’t feel gratuitous, it is as brutal and as shocking as it needs to be. We are talking about a Concentration Camp here after all and the very real issue of Nazi war criminals who escaped punishment and ended up in the countries that were allied against them, some smuggled out by those governments and others smuggled themselves in and forget a new identity.
The research is meticulous and feels far closer to a real criminal investigation – so it fuses crime drama with political thriller rather well too. I believe the author had a background in this. When he emailed me the copy he explained his history but sadly I cannot find the details now. Either way, he has put his background to very good use here.
A solid 4/5
2 thoughts on “Book Review: Schreiber’s Secret by Roger Radford”
Another wonderful review, Matt. It’s quite funny to think that there are readers out there who would oppose to the violence in the book, as if Concentration Camps were summer getaways. Though Mathair and I feel unwarranted/gratuitous gore weakens a story, to whitewash what happened back then is merely victimizing the victims all over again. The truth hurts, it’s uncomfortable and it’s not always pretty, but we have to take our heads out of the sand if we’re ever going to learn from our history.
I quite agree – toning down sex or violence when discussing actual events purely because it might offend certain sensibilities does a disservice to the situation. Graphic sex and violence can enhance a story when used in the right context.