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Saturday, 24 May 2014
The Afrika Reich by Guy Saville
What We Thought: This is probably the millionth time someone has referred to Afrika Reich and Fatherland in the same sentence, but I'll do it again. The similarities between the two start with an alternative history novel and end with two outstanding plots. I was one of the idiots who, when reading Fatherland, didn't read the jacket blurb before the actual book and got about half way through before realising something wasn't quite right, because the Germans definitely didn't win the war. That's how convincing the narrative and detail were, and that's how believable Afrika Reich is when exploring an Africa under Nazi control.
I had been warned before embarking on reading Saville's work that some of the scenes would make uncomfortable reading, but each one is crafted beautifully, pacey, heart-warming in places, descriptive and the violence necessary to the overall story and the situations the lead duo Cole and Whaler find themselves.
Afrika Reich also has one of the most ruthless and disturbed villains. But even here there's a softer side which is gradually unveiled to the reader, telling of a past that gives his action not an excuse, but meaning, creating an unsettling empathy.
There's a lot of depth, vast amounts of research that make it believable whilst not overwhelming the reader, a love interest, conflict, blood, death and a chase that could rival the best of them. If you like a thriller, you love this. Bloody addictive reading.
You'll enjoy this if you like: Robert Harris, turning pages quickly, WW2 themes, action.
Avoid if you dislike: Skulls, a cliffhanger, historical fiction, uncomfortable reading.
Ideal accompaniments: A stiff drink and roast beef baguette.
Genre: Historical fiction.