Being a subscriber to the daily English-language news review from German magazine Der Spiegel I was delighted to hear that one of their writers, David Crosland, had published a novel tackling the topic of the Neo-Nazi movement in Germany, The Jewish Candidate. Although this book may seem a little implausible (the rise of a new “Hitler” type character in modern Germany), anyone who reads Der Spiegel regularly will know that the Neo-Nazi movement has significant support in Germany, particularly in the East and is a constant concern to the authorities (see for example this article in Der Spiegel, Germany’s Risky Push to Outlaw Far Right Party).
Crosland’s book covers an election campaign in Germany, in which Rudolf Gutman, a German Jew is standing for election to the post of Chancellor. Standing against him is Hermann von Tietjen who uses a full set of “dirty tricks” to oppose Gutman. von Tietjen’s main enemy is the Muslim minority in Germany and he uses various tactics to whip up hatred for the Muslim minority and also to threaten the Jewish Gutman.
The story is told by Frank Carver, a British reporter who is covering the electtion campaign for the fictitious London Chronicle. Carver gets into various scrapes as he infiltrates neo-Nazi meetings and confronts the leaders of the movement. Before long he finds himself racing against time to foil a dreadful plot which could see von Tietjen massively increase his support.
My only quibble about the book is that David Crosland is not the greatest of writers. The book is “racy” but lacks style, and I found myself thinking that top writers like Philip Kerr, Gerald Seymour and Alan Furst would have made a better job of it. At times the sense of improbability was a little too great for me and I found myself in two minds whether to give up on it. However, the topicality of the story and the forward movement kept me going until the end. If I was to award three stars to the book, that would be cruel, but four gives seems rather too high because, although writer has a highly imaginative approach, the rather sensationalist writing style lets him down. One thing for sure, it would make a fantastic film.
I’d like to be able to write two articles a week as I have done over the last five or six years, but free time seems to have evaporated from my life over the last few months. It’s my own fault: after 30+ years working in the I.T industry, I still find myself fascinated by technology and when the opportunity came along to design a new website for a charity as a volunteer, I jumped at it, not quite realising how much work was involved. I find that I can do most of the work in the mornings between 7.30 and 9.30 (I don’t need a lot of sleep), but this of course is the time I devoted to this book blog. Never mind, this won’t go on forever and I hope that by about February I’ll have finished most of the web design work and will be able to come back to more regular book-reviewing.
The charity is Kiya Survivors, a charity founded by the remarkable Suzy Butler and now expanding rapidly in its work of helping Peruvian children with learning disabilities and autism. Their current website is on it’s last legs and is frequently down – you might be able to see it here but I wouldn’t guarantee it.
Something else which has taken up my time is the arrival of two new grand-sons, one from my daughter and one from my son’s wife. It’s been a joy to get involved in their tiny lives.