Holt, Sept. 2001, 26.00, 496 pp.
Before World War II forced him to leave, Jake Geismar, was CBS' reporter in Berlin. Now with the war over, CBS sends Jake back to Berlin to cover the Potsdam Conference. An obsessed Jake could not care less about a stuffy conference with a bunch of aging heads of state ready to carve up Europe like the failed efforts of Metternich a century before. Instead, Jake needs to know what happened to his prewar lover, Lena.
Jake becomes interested in the corpse of an American soldier whose murdered body is found near the conference. The intriguing part of this homicide is the Ally military leadership efforts to sweep the murder under a rug. Jake's journalist instincts smell a big story so he begins his own inquires that take him on a tour of the battered from the capital of the Third Reich and the competition among the winners to grab the spoils of victory, including the German scientists like Lena's husband.
THE GOOD GERMAN is an exciting look at Berlin just after the Nazi defeat. The story line is fantastic when the characters deal with ethics and morality especially local efforts to expunge feelings of guilt over atrocities and over losing. The tale slows down when Joseph Kanon turns it more into a thriller that interferes with an incredible character study filled with pathos as Allies and Germans feel different degrees of inadequacy, guilt, mistrust, and denial.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner