AMAZON UK £ 4.99 / £ 11.99
In this tense story set during the last days of Berlin, 1945, we follow five different people, each with different loyalties and different roles: Tanya, a Russian with German nationality, John Marlow, an Englishman fighting the Reds for a Finnish outfit, Walter, a young German aspiring to the Hitler Youth and the brothers Leonid and Cheslav, soldiers in the advancing Red Army.
What we have is not so much a military war book, but an examination of people, their feelings and reactions to the events that are unfolding around them. If you want action, then you won't find it here, apart from a number of sporadic skirmishes, all of which add to the tension building slowly and menacingly thanks to the author's craft of description and observations of those little things that people do – their characteristics, in other words. And this is masterfully done – all characters and the settings are totally believable.
I don’t think this is a spoiler: we are left at the end wondering about the eventual fate of each major character for the author leaves us with a number of options. Which, considering the depth of study of each person, is perhaps a bit of a shame for we have come to know these people so well during the course of the book. On the other hand this gives us the opportunity to think and expand our own questioning imagination, so perhaps this is a good thing.
Recommended for people who enjoy a human study rather than an action-packed war story: and the human study is done very well. Very well indeed.
© Richard Tearle (Discovering Diamonds)