There is, of course, a vast literature on Nazi Germany, in both fiction and nonfiction, and some readers already will have covered the ground explored here. But Kerr, perhaps best known for his "Berlin Noir" trilogy, is a close student of wartime Germany, and for other readers Hitler's Peace will offer an action-packed, well-researched introduction to the Nazi cosmos, as well as to the Big Three leaders and the Tehran conference. The novel is always readable but inevitably uneven, because the loathsome reality of the Nazis is a good deal more fascinating than the gee-whiz adventures Kerr builds around Willard Mayer and the Roosevelt circle. What can you do? As the poet John Milton demonstrated several centuries ago in Paradise Lost, devils are inherently more interesting than angels.
The Washington Post
Fans of Kerr's Berlin Noir trilogy will prize this briskly paced WWII-era spy thriller, which boasts plot twists that will keep readers' heads spinning even after they've put it down. For Willard Mayer, a 35-year-old Harvard-educated empirical philosopher, the roots of pro-Communist realpolitiking run deep. A former Princeton professor who was also a member of the Abwehr, Germany's military intelligence service, and an informer for Russia's notorious Internal Affairs Commissariat, the NKVD, Mayer during the war works as an intelligence analyst for the Office of Strategic Services in Washington-which remains unaware of his past. En route to Tehran, at Roosevelt's insistence, for the Big Three conference in November 1943 aboard the USS Iowa, Mayer believes he's uncovered a plot to assassinate Joseph Stalin. Meanwhile, Hitler and Himmler, eager to avoid engaging the U.S. in a second European front, are trying to figure out how to get around Roosevelt's demand for an unconditional surrender. The ethically compromised Mayer finds himself in the thick of the negotiations even as larger plots are afoot, including one by an SS general to bomb Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill in Tehran. Kerr is as interested in backdoor diplomatic efforts as he is in espionage and assassination, and this highly entertaining spy fiction also explores the moral quandaries of war and realpolitik. Agent, Caradoc King at AP Watt (U.K.). (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
The latest novel by the ever versatile Kerr (Dark Matter; The Second Angel) is a tense, complex, and chilling tale of intrigue. It is 1943, and Hitler, as he is losing the war, is desperate to sign a separate peace with either Roosevelt or Stalin, leaving him free to fight the remaining ally. (England was no longer considered important.) When the Nazis discover that a conference among Churchill, Stalin, and FDR will be held in Teheran, Iran, Hitler decides to assassinate them. Stalin especially is the key-with his death, it is hoped that Russia will collapse and Germany will be able to focus on the West. Attending the Teheran conference as a translator (and an OSS agent) for FDR is Willard Mayer, a Princeton philosophy instructor with a checkered past that includes both Nazis and Communists. German and Soviet spies are everywhere, and as Mayer investigates, his companions are murdered and attempts are made on his life. FDR, Hitler, Churchill, Stalin, and other major historical figures are portrayed realistically, and their intrigues are grimly fascinating. With its numerous plot twists, this book may remind readers of Frederick Forsyth's The Day of the Jackal. Highly recommended for most fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/05.]-Robert Conroy, Warren, MI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
It's 1943, two years before V-E Day, and everybody knows the Germans are beaten-especially the Germans. So what's to be done about it? Strategies vary, of course. Roosevelt has called for unconditional surrender, a demand that worries the Brits, who feared it might be counterproductive in the way draconian measures often are, cornering the rat, as it were. Second Front, Stalin keeps repeating with Slavic stolidity, while holding his options open. Among the members of the German high command the imperative is to "cut our losses," but Hitler, Himmler, Bormann et al., take differing approaches in support of diverse agendas. With this as background, young Willard Mayer is suddenly summoned to the Oval Office, where he's given an unexpected assignment. Mayer, a former Princeton philosophy professor currently serving as an intelligence analyst with the OSS (precursor to the CIA), has managed to impress FDR with a book of his titled On Being Empirical. As a result, he's plucked from a pool of midlevel colleagues and asked to examine the facts surrounding the massacre of 5,000 Polish soldiers, allegedly by the Soviets. This task, however, is mere prelude. The Big Three-Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin-are about to meet in Teheran, and the president offers Willard an invitation to come along as a kind of assistant to illness-ridden Harry Hopkins. Self-assured Willard-described by one enamored lady as "the cleverest man I know"-takes it all in stride. And in the history-making events that follow, he plays the pivotal role he clearly regards as his due. Again, the protean Kerr (Dark Matter, 2002, etc.) nails his setting and does justice to a large fictitious/for-real cast, but an emotionallyinaccessible protagonist-who sees an affinity between himself and Hitler, inasmuch as both are without "moral values"-is hard to warm to.