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The Alphabet House (2000)

by Jussi Adler-Olsen(Favorite Author)
3.69 of 5 Votes: 4
0525954899 (ISBN13: 9780525954897)
review 1: I've read a number of Jussi's books and this one is exceptional and very different from the Scandinavian base thrillers that I have read previously. The setting is (initially) the Second World War, involving James and Bryan, best mates since childhood, and now together on a mission above Germany in 1944. Their plane is attacked but they manage to parachute out of it, although James is wounded. They're as deep as you can get in enemy territory, so they resort to a risky but ultimately successful ruse by chambering aboard a hospital train taking injured and traumatized Nazi troops to a hospital,. In so doing they kill two Germans and assume their identities. While this works they end up in a special unit for mentally impaired soldiers. As a result they're subjected to shock... more treatment, radical medication and worse. While Bryan, who speaks German manages to maintain some sense of (secret) normality, James retreats into a very dark place. After months in this hellhole and with intimidation from a trio of fellow "malingerers" Bryan manages to escape and makes it back to the Allied lines. The story then moves forward nearly thirty years, and finds Bryan as a very wealthy and successful doctor and business. He hasn't been back to Germany since his escape but on a whim decides to see if he can find out anything about his friend, who he had to leave behind because of the state that he was in. The next chapters are charged with electricity and plot twists that make The Alphabet House a really special read.
review 2: This was Adler-Olsen’s first published novel in 1997, but this is the first translation in English. Some of the off-hand humor and style of the Department Q novels are seen here but the story and the way it turns is totally different. It begins during WW2 and ends in 1972 Munich.Part 1 is set during WW2, Brian and James were pilots with the RAF. They were sent on a secret photographing mission during 1944, but were shot down. After they crashed they realized that they needed to go underground until the Allies reached the area they were in. The city of Fribourg is close to the Rhine and Switzerland. They were hoping to get close enough to the border or the river and escape to freedom.While they were trying to get to the Rhine they climbed aboard a Railroad train. The train was hospital train, that turned out to be full of high level SS officers. They changed places with two of the injured and stayed on the train pretending to be in coma. They were finally taken to a psychiatric hospital in Fribourg. There were four other malingerers in there ward. They spent nine months in the mental institution being given anti-psychotic medication and electro-shock treatment.Brian was finally able to escape, but was followed by two of the malingerers. These men feared that Brian had heard them speaking about the horde of jewelry and painting that they had hid in a railway car. Brian was able to kill both men and get away to the Allied side of the Rhine. He was able to go back to England and spent the next twenty-five years building a life as a doctor and pharmaceutical producer. He spent money and time over those years trying to find news about James.In 1972 Brian is asked to accompany the British Olympic team to Munich as a sports medicine specialist. Brian hadn’t been to Germany since the War and didn’t want to go back. But he hired someone to take one last shot at finding James, and when that man came across some interesting information, Brian decided it was time to go back to Fribourg. In Fribourg he begins to run into some of the malingerers that he knew in the mental asylum during the War. When he questions one of the men, he seems evasive and says that James had died near the end of the war in a bombing. But, Brian senses there’s more to the story. When someone tries to kill Brian, he knows that the secret is related to James and only the malingerers know what happened. Even if his life is in danger, Brian has to find out what really happened to James. Nicely written and keeps surprising you with the turns the story takes, right up to the end.Zeb Kantrowitz zworstblog.blogspot.com less
Reviews (see all)
The first half of this book was slow, but when the story startetd to flow, it captured you completly
Måske fortjener den 4 stjerner - jeg var bare ikke fanget nok ind af bogen til det......
Lidt langtrukkent i starten, men når del 2 er gået i gang, er den jo fantastisk!
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