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From Barnes & NobleReminiscent of the works of Ken Follett and Fredrick Forsythe, Christopher Reich's second novel (following the blockbuster, The Numbered Account), The Runner, is a tour de force of post-World War II intrigue set in a defeated, but still writhing, Germany. The Runner is a breakneck-paced story that does justice to all perspectives involved; in it, both the innocent and the guilty on each side of the war must face their own aspirations and personal guilt as they are drawn into head-on confrontations with their enemies and themselves.
The notorious SS soldier Erich Seyss, a former Olympic runner nicknamed the "White Lion," has escaped from an American POW camp where he's been imprisoned for appalling war crimes. Devlin Judge, an ex-Brooklyn-cop-turned-lawyer, is in charge of interrogating and prosecuting Goering, but decides instead to go on the hunt for Seyss, who is responsible for the murders of 70 unarmed American soldiers including Judge's own brother, a Jesuit priest. Although Judge's commanding officers are reluctant to allow him to head the search, he eventually earns one week to recapture Seyss before being forced to return to his position in the International Legal Tribunal.
Germany is in ruins: The country is without electricity, proper sewage control, a police force, or even a government. It has also been divided into zones of Allied occupation, virtually whittled down into pieces. Enter Egon Bach, a wealthy industrialist who plans to put Seyss to good use now that he is once again free. Along with a small group of other industrialists -- who call themselves the Circle of Fire -- Bach intends to do all that he can in order to preserve what remains of Germany's integrity. In one week, American, British, and Russian leaders will gather to decide the fate of Germany. With relations between Russia and America so sensitive, Bach and the Circle of Fire intend to use Seyss to kick start a war between the world powers, in turn positioning Germany as an American ally.
Christopher Reich's snappy delivery adds new dimension to the WWII scenery as he convincingly reconstructs life in post-war Germany, giving us memorable scenes of suspicion and conflict as hostilities still spark in devastated cities. The author presents us with comprehensive descriptions of the harsh realities of combat, in a country where tens of thousands of corpses still await burial. Political alliances are tenuous at best, and the blackmarket reigns supreme. Reich should be commended for taking the time to explore each layer of the political and social strata comprising a war-torn Europe, from the U.S. echelon in charge of rounding up deserted Nazi soldiers to the homeless German civilians trying to survive on the lawless streets.
In addition, each character is highly credible, filled with insecurities, and driven with the need to make a personal mark in a land that most feel insignificant. The Runner proves that no one is free from the sins of his own past, and that both our heroes and villains are serving a personal, but questionable, "greater good." The cameo appearances by General George Patton add a fuel of tension and milieu, as Reich's Patton can barely withhold his hatred for the enemy and seethes with potential violence. The author's attention to historical fact allows for an even greater understanding of the motivations of both the Allies and Axis Powers, and the liberties he takes benefit the overall storyline.
Seasoned with meticulous details, a heavy atmosphere of revenge, and top-notch political espionage, The Runner, which will make you sit up and take notice of the past, is a truly first-rate thriller.