Vintage, $23.95 pb, 288 pp, 1740523886
The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past; it keeps coming back as different novels, and writers do things differently there. Nazi Germany remains history’s prime hothouse from which to procure blooms for fiction’s bouquet. All those darkly perfumed spikes – drama and tragedy intrinsic, memory within recall.
David Whish-Wilson’s début novel opens in Berlin, 1934. Our hero is the war-damaged veteran and historian Dr Mobius, who ekes out his days in the library. Returning from lunch one afternoon, Mobius sees at his desk a tall man in black, the black of an SS officer. It is his old friend Flade, come to persuade him to join his work. Flade shares a tricky past with Mobius, having introduced him to his first broken heart and provided him with hand-me-downs of expensive clothing.