The German by Lee Thomas is an accomplished, gut-wrencher of a novel. Ernst Lang is a former German soldier who fled the Nazis and relocated to a small town outside of Austin, TX. The year is 1944 and someone is killing boys and leaving pro-Nazi notes in the victims mouths. The locals quickly display an all too familiar and realistic display of xenophobia and homophobia in accusing/confronting Lang and other Germans who live in the area.
Lee does a fantastic job with wide cast of characters and shifting POVs, particularly with the powerful Lang, who is made to suffer the indignities and atrocities of ignorance with a dignity that is as authentic as it is heartbreaking. Reminiscent of Ketchum’s THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, THE GERMAN unflinchingly confronts the consequences of ignorances inevitable turn to violence.
A Killer’s Essence by Dave Zeltserman: This mix of police procedural, noir, spec lit, and domestic character study is entertaining and expertly plotted. Set against the backdrop of the 2004 ALCS, and the collapse of the Yankees against the Red Sox, New York City police detective Stan Greene investigates a brutal series of random murders while juggling (and dropping) the pieces of his personal life. Oh, and there’s a witness, a veritable shut-in who might be able to help despite his neurological damage and his demonic hallucinations. Like all of Dave’s novels, A KILLER’S ESSENCE is tightly plotted storytelling featuring realistically flawed and memorable characters.