St. Martin's, Nov 2003, 23.95, 304 pp.
In 1938 Nazi Germany Franz Schmidt has a good life. He is happily married to Helga and they have a delightful four year old daughter. He works as the chief internal auditor at Banhaus Wertham & Co. where he is very highly regarded by the Werthan family that owns the bank. Franz feels pretty good about himself also since he stepped in to defend a Jew attacked by Nazis three years ago at the cost of an eye.
Franz's life changes when the Nazi Party deposits large sums of cash at Banhaus Wertham & Co. with the demand that anyone with the slightest Jewish blood be fired as the law states. Half-Jewish Fraulein Dressler, competent secretary to the bank's general director, will have to be released. Upset over the injustice, Franz decides to help Dressler while plotting to castigate Herr Dietrich, the Nazi mole just put inside the bank. Though the price of being caught could reach his beloved family, inactivity would cost Franz much more.
This is an historical tale that takes the reader back to a highly volatile and dangerous time to be a freedom lover. The story line is fantastic as it moves rather quickly forward yet provides fully developed characters whose behavior especially reactions during crisis are brilliantly rendered. However, the key to Marshall Browne's tale is Nazi Germany on the brink of World War II that comes so alive. Author of the well written police Inspector Anders tales Mr. Browne's latest work will be on everyone's short list for the genre's best novel of the year.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner