The eye of the abyss / Marshall Browne.

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      1st U.S. ed.
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Booklist Reviews 2003 September #1

/*Starred Review*/ After a pair of diverting Euro-mysteries, Browne offers this superlatively chilling historical thriller. It is autumn 1938, the eve of Kristallnacht, and the German banking firm of Wertheim & Co. has just landed a prestigious new client: the Nazi Party. Herr Dietrich, an enthusiastic Aryan, is taken on as an assistant director, the better to monitor the brisk influx of "donations," and to cleanse the staff gene pool of Frau Dressler, a half-Jewish executive secretary. At the axis of this grim reckoning is staid bank auditor Franz Schmidt, a direct descendant of J. S. Bach and a Teutonic blueblood who lost an eye some years past in a scuffle with brownshirts. Struggling to shake off his disbelief at the enormity of a hopeful nation going incrementally mad, Schmidt now finds himself forced to choose between damnable acquiescence and decisive (but possibly deadly) action. Browne wrings exquisite tension from each subtly realized glance, thought, and hesitation, and his plot twists captivate without straining for effect, resulting in an elegant and thoroughly credible atmospheric thriller with more impact and psychological depth than the cinematic romanticism of genre-leader Alan Furst. ((Reviewed September 1, 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews

PW Reviews 2003 September #3

Aussie-based Browne takes a break from his highly praised series about a one-legged European police detective, Inspector Anders, to start what one hopes will be another series, about a one-eyed German banker secretly fighting the Nazis. Franz Schmidt, chief auditor for a family-owned bank in an unnamed south German city, loses his eye defending a Jew attacked by Nazi thugs in 1935. A quiet and meticulous man, he apparently bears no grudges, though his wife and best friend aren't so sure. Three years later, when his bank is chosen as a repository for large amounts of Nazi Party cash, the other shoe drops, and Schmidt becomes a man of action. First, he takes great risks trying to help a female bank employee whose mother was Jewish. Then he dreams up a plan to punish Dietrich, the sleek and seductive party operative placed inside the bank. As he did in his two other books (Inspector Anders and the Ship of Fools and The Wooden Leg of Inspector Anders), Browne quickly creates a dark and convincingly Kafkaesque landscape, filled with people whose strengths and weaknesses radiate credibility. Dietrich and another top Nazi, von Streck, are frighteningly vivid, as are the endangered woman, her police inspector father, Schmidt's determined wife and his fragile friend. And Schmidt himself has our complete attention from the beginning, as he and we look for some possible light in the gathering storm of Nazi oppression. Readers who enjoy the WWII mysteries of Alan Furst, J. Robert Janes and Philip Kerr should especially savor this fine book. (Oct. 6) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.