Court of Blue Shadows (H)

Maynard Allington, Author
Maynard Allington, Author Potomac Books $22.95 (269p) ISBN 978-0-02-881104-8
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
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An intriguing premise animates this strong and affecting psychological thriller set in the aftermath of WWII. Liberated from Dachau, an amnesiac man whose number tattoo has been surgically removed from his arm takes the name of Josef Neumann. During the course of this narrative, he recovers his identity as Paul Krenek and tracks down the SS murderers of his twin brother and mildly retarded little sister. Allington (The Fox in the Field) takes big risks here, and, despite some twists that strain credulity, for the most part pulls them off. Alina Levin, a Jewish physician tormented by guilt over the barbarous medical experiments she was ordered to perform on fellow prisoners at Auschwitz, marries Paul after the war and accompanies him to Brazil. There he confronts his former friend, Nazi doctor Georg Viertel, a cultivated killer who coolly rationalizes the Nazis' mass murder of people deemed ``mental defectives.'' The plot then moves backward in time: to Athens, where Paul, a student spending two years abroad on the eve of the war, spurns his German girlfriend, Leni (who ends up marrying Georg); to Switzerland, where Paul and his sister Liesl are arrested by the Gestapo; to an SS colonel's estate near Bergen-Belsen, where Ernst, Paul's twin, an artist imprisoned by the Nazis, forges Modiglianis and Braques. Indeed, from his story line of Nazis and stolen art, Allington deftly hangs the threads of forgery, the theme of true and false identity, as war criminals adopt new personas and as Paul tries to figure out who he really is. (Apr.)
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