Title: The German
Author: Lee Thomas
Publisher: Lethe Press
Originally published: 2011
The dice landed on: 5
Did I finish?: Yes
Do I like the cover?: Yes
At the height of World War II, a killer preys on the young men of a quiet Texas town. The murders are calculated, vicious, and they are just beginning. Sheriff Tom Rabbit and his men are baffled and the community he serves is terrified of the monster lurking their streets. The only clues the killer leaves behind are painted snuffboxes containing notes written in German. As the panic builds all eyes turn toward a quiet man with secrets of his own.
Ernst Lang fled Germany in 1934. Once a brute and a soldier, he has renounced aggression and embraces a peaceful obscurity. But Lang is haunted by an impossible past. He remembers his own execution and the extremes of sex and violence that led to it. He remembers the men he led into battle, the men he seduced, and the men who betrayed him. But are these the memories of a man given a second life, or the delusions of a lunatic?
One of my reading goals for 2012 was to read the winner of the Lamba SF/Fantasy/Horror prize. To my dismay the winner was referred to as a horror book, not my cup of tea at all, but I still decided to give it a try. Sometimes I’m really happy that my reading goals take me outside my comfort zone…
I’m not quite sure why they call this a horror novel. I’ve read worse descriptions of violence in ordinary crime novels, and met a lot more sinister creatures than anyone in this book.
This is a very good novel. On the outside it’s about solving horrible murders, but really it’s about groups, distrust, xenophobia and homophobia. The three different “voices” tell their own part of the tail in a manner that suits each of them, and I feel that that is a good way to get the story accross. An all knowing third person narrative wouldn’t have worked as well.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a good book. If you can’t cope with a little gay sex, you might want to avoid it, or skip over a few lines here and there. If you don’t like fantasy, but enjoy crime novels in general, this book is still for you. The supernatural element really isn’t very pronounced at all. Also, the murderer came as a bit of a surprise, and I like that.