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I love this period of historical novel and McCallin is the best I've read so far. In the beginning it's a bit hard to keep track of all the characters, but stick with it; the book is very well written and very suspenseful. Narration is great including a multitude of voices and quirks vocalic quirks for several characters. I just finished the book and purchased Book 2. Can't wait to keep up with Gregor Reinhardt.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
Very good first novel by this author. Read it. Here's why :
What attracted me to this book are the few but positive reviews and -- most importantly -- the fact that the story takes place in Sarajevo in 1943. It is an unusual (exotic?) combination of time and place for a novel about a murder investigation. I find many of the modern attempts at publishing historical novels end up featuring bland/overused stories disguised as something new, missing yet another opportunity to tell us what it was like during those days.
The Man From Berlin did not fufill my apprehensions : it was entertaining, original, fascinating and un-pretentious. The narrator did a very good job of speaking with just a touch of a German accent and his intonation fit the style. I learned a lot about the sad and complex history of the peoples of the Balkans. For instance I learned that Sarajevo, today the capital city of Bosnia & Herzegovina, was forced to be included in the short-lived Nazi puppet-state called "Independant State of Croatia" and that the Croat pro-Nazi party (the Ustaše) was in charge. A significant number of ethnic Croats were enrolled in German SS divisions made sure Germany's politics were carried out locally. While many atrocities were commited, the author wisely chose to mention it clearly and not dwell emotionally on the subject. The Nazis are favorite villains in fiction and I applaud Mr. McCallin for not feeding the trolls in this work. The subject of Jews cannot be avoided and the author did a very graceful job at casting an era-appropriate view of Hitler's most known ethnic policies.
There are many bad historical novels out there, and quite a few ordinary ones too. The Man from Berlin was a gamble for me. I will definitely be following this author in the future.
15 of 16 people found this review helpful