Sunday, February 26, 2012

Five novels on the victims of the Nazi nightmare

At the Wall Street Journal, Sam Sacks wrote about five Nazi-themed novels, including:
Tired of trying to muster sympathy for passive Nazi accomplices, I was pleased to encounter the dark excitement of Dan Vyleta's "The Quiet Twin" (Bloomsbury, 374 pages, $16). The novel is set in and around a Vienna apartment complex where, shortly after the outbreak of the war, Nazis are turning up murdered.

When the Gestapo begins investigating the deaths, the Germans force an unassuming doctor, Anton Beer, to help them. Dr. Beer, who lives in the apartment complex, was a forensic psychologist before such research was banned by the Nazis because it "violated the precepts of National Socialist science." As in Hitchcock's "Rear Window," paranoia mounts as a rogues' gallery of the doctor's neighbors are introduced, each of whom may be a killer or a Nazi informer.

Amid this rich noir atmosphere, a deeper conflict emerges when Dr. Beer becomes the caretaker for a quadriplegic woman and a traumatized orphan. "The Quiet Twin" then plays out the battle between the Nazis' urge to eliminate society's most vulnerable members and the humanist doctor's duty to protect them. That the battle is unequal from the start does not detract from this tense, well-wrought novel.
Read about another book Sacks tagged.

Learn more about The Quiet Twin.

See Dan Vyleta's top 10 list of books in second languages.

--Marshal Zeringue