The Pale House by Luke McCallin

German intelligence officer Captain Gregor Reinhardt has just been reassigned to the Feldjaegerkorps – a new branch of the military police with far-reaching powers. His position separates him from the friends and allies he has made in the last two years, including a circle of fellow dissenting Germans who formed a rough resistance cell against the Nazis. And he needs them now more than ever.

While retreating through Yugoslavia with remainder of the army, Reinhardt witnesses a bloodbath of civilians by the dreaded Ustaše – only to discover there is more to the incident than anyone believes. When five mutilated bodies turn up, Reinhardt knows the stakes are growing more important – and more dangerous.

As his investigation begins to draw the attention of those in power, Reinhardt’s friends and associates are made to suffer. But as he desperately tries to uncover the truth, his own past with the Ustaše threatens his efforts. Because when it comes to death and betrayal, some people have long memories. And they remember Reinhardt all too well.

Following the earlier Man From Berlin novel this follow up continues the story of Captain Gregor Reinhardt as he tries to do his job in the German military police in the middle of his army’s retreat from Yugoslavia. He has to navigate a complex web of conflicting interests in order to get to the truth which turns out to be very problematic for his enemies, of whom there are many. It’s another really impressive yarn and, despite some difficulties remembering the ins and outs of the different groupings in Sarajevo I nevertheless found myself swept along by the narrative. Overall pretty grim but also quite gripping.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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