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Thursday, January 01, 2015

Traitor's Gate by Michael Ridpath | LibraryThing

According to the author’s note at the end of the book, there was a Wehrmacht plot to assassinate Hitler in 1938.  That event serves as the foundation for this novel.  I hesitate to called it alternate history for reasons that will become obvious at the end.

The protagonist, Conrad is an idealist and a zealot.  We first meet him during the Spanish Civil War where he and two other comrades have just shot three members of the Spanish brigade who were about to rape some nuns.  The Catholic Church had always symbolized Nationalist repression.  Unfortunately, they were recognized later by a fourth man whom Conrad had only nicked and later shoots both David and Harry in the back during a charge against the Fascists.

So right away several moral dichotomies are presented:  did the members of the Spanish Brigade deserve to die to prevent the rape?  Did Conrad and his friends deserve to die for killing their allies?  Did their actions alter historical events?

Scene shift to several years later.  Conrad is now heavily involved as go-between in a plot orchestrated by Admiral Canaris and some higher level German generals and the British government. All fear Hitler's foray into Czechoslovakia but for different reasons.  You have to suspend some normal rational thinking as Conrad, speaking fluent German, seems to easily move in the higher levels of British government and, with his aristocratic German friend Theo, German generalship.

I prefer Ridpath’s Fire and Ice series of novels, but the book did hold my interest.

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