cover image The Detour

The Detour

Andromeda Romano-Lax. Soho, $25 (320p) ISBN 978-1-61695-049-1

The Third Reich’s Sonderprojekt, to collect the world’s great art, is underway when Romano-Lax’s second novel begins, as 24-year-old curator Ernst Vogler, whose mentor has just been sent to Dachau, goes to Italy to retrieve the famous Discus Thrower statue. The young man’s simple three-day journey goes awry immediately when his local police escorts—brothers Enzo and Cosimo—take a circuitous route to throw off thieves. Enzo wants to pursue a woman, while Cosimo wants the German to see the beauty around them and grows frustrated at Ernest’s stoicism. When tragedy separates the brothers, such concerns take a backseat to survival and protecting the statue for the Führer. Throughout it all, Vogler recalls past incidents as they relate to the Reich, including his father’s obsession with his son’s physique and his mentor’s concern about the world’s art being collected for the benefit of only a few (Vogler’s own view is that “the art would outlive the men” who own it). In following a trio of meanderers, Romano-Lax (The Spanish Bow) brings inertia to her narrative, deflating the foreboding of this German’s imploding assignment. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary. (Feb.)