cover image The German

The German

Lee Thomas, Lethe (, $18 trade paper (278p) ISBN 978-1-59021-309-4

Lambda-winner Thomas (The Dust of Wonderland) sets this powerful thriller in a small Texas town in 1944. As a mysterious killer preys on the community's young men—leaving pro-Nazi notes inside the victims' mouths—the frightened residents cast blame on the area's sizable German population. Their chief suspect is Ernst Lang, a gay ex-soldier who fled Germany years earlier. Lang has been an exemplary neighbor, but his nationality and sexuality make him a target for a largely ignorant and panicked populace looking for a scapegoat. The supernatural element of the story is decidedly understated, but the novel's overall thematic power and narrative eloquence are wrenching. Thomas's compelling imagery (religion and politics are "gardens of atrocity" that grow "fat succulent flora") and disturbing portrait of humanity at its worse will haunt readers long after the last page is turned. (Apr.)