Saturday, 24 May 2008
AUTHOR: Robert Harris
DATE PUBLISHED: 1992
DATE READ: May 2008
NOTES: Fatherland is set in Germany in the 1960s – but this is a Germany that won the war and changed the face of Europe. Xavier March is a policeman – honest but increasingly cynical about the regime – who begins to investigate the deaths of some high ranking officials. He meets up with a young American woman and together they try to unravel the trail of corruption and lies. But soon he is being sought by the Gestapo and he soon realises that the lives of both Charlotte and himself are in serious danger.
This is an extremely well written thriller that is made all the more interesting by its imaginary setting. Much of the detail rings true – the architecture, the culture, relations with the rest of Europe and with the United States. One minor problem I had was the way in which the horrors of the regime begin to be made clear – although they may have been relevations to March they were not new to the reader.
There are also some references to how much people actually knew about the atrocities committed by the Nazis. There is a subtle difference between not knowing something and choosing not to know. Harris could have explored this more deeply.
Nonetheless a great read and a thought provoking book.