The Reich is imploding. Soon, an International Military Tribunal will convene in Nuremberg to pass judgement on the Nazi elite. It is beset by divisions between the victorious Allies. A rampant Göring is running rings around the prosecution. Anyway, what could this trial possibly mean without Hitler in the dock?
Against the backdrop of a convulsed Europe, Peter Birkett, the youngest captain in the British Army, assigned to the mysterious and all-powerful T Force, and Captain Elizaveta Terisova, Stalin's favourite Komsomol maiden, are confronted with the horror of war, the moral and physical dangers of occupation and the peculiar plight of women in combat zones. Smart, resourceful and ruthless, both are deeply conflicted, struggling with their own demons, and baffled by the realpolitik masquerading as international law. Which of their moral principles, if any, can they afford to uphold? What will become of nineteen-year-old Susette, Peter Birkett's German girlfriend?
In a world of spies and doppelgängers, where identifiers such as dental records and fingerprints only add to the confusion, Captain Peter Birkett is having to make life-and-death decisions which not only challenge his moral certainties, but may change the course of history...
Find out more by downloading the full Press Release.
"I don't read historical novels as a rule. Historians are naturally suspicious of invention and speculation, their training tells them to apply themselves to the facts and discount anything that fails to conform. I am conscious, on the other hand, that it is a wide field and that Dickens, Tolstoy, Balzac or Zola all dipped into the genre in one way or other. Some historical novels are merely costume bodice-rippers of questionable authenticity while others set a fictional drama in an historical period and try to get the time, and indeed the language as close to perfection as possible. Others go the whole hog and invent an episode in the life of an historical figure. Yves Bonavero's The Nuremberg Enigma is a little bit of both…
Bonavero weaves an interesting twist into the story before introducing his - naturally glamorous - male and female protagonists: a young British officer in T-Force, charged with a mission to locate and requisition German technology, and a female Soviet intelligence officer engaged in much the same quest: they want above all to locate Hitler's stocks of enriched uranium…
Bonavero makes it clear in an afterword that his British officer is based very largely on a real person called Michael Howard (no, not the great historian Sir Michael Howard - another one) but in the book he is called 'Peter Birkett', apparently the son of Sir Norman, later Baron Birkett, one of the British judges at Nuremberg. Birkett had a son called Michael, who died last year. He was too young to fight in the war and appears to bear no resemblance to the character in the book. Other real life figures play prominent roles, not least the late Airey Neave, who was blown up by the IRA in 1979, and who was an investigating officer at Nuremberg. There are various real Nazis such as Bormann and Fritzsche and some Americans like Colonel Andrus. Actual events (or versions of them) such as the explosion in the Grimberg coal mine in 1946, are also cleverly threaded into the plot…"
Bonavero maintains the pace and keeps you guessing until the end… The prose is impressively terse and generally free from jarring neologisms.
Giles MacDonogh is the author of fourteen books on subjects as diverse as German history, French gastronomy and wine.
"A brilliantly creepy and worryingly enthralling debut"
"I was gripped and enthralled..."
Winner Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Prize.
Nominated for 2002 Booker Prize
"...an astounding tale... an astonishing and gripping story..."
"Something of an ancient mariner saga...
"a chilling psychological thriller by a debut writer of whom we will certainly hear more."
"...will keep you mesmerised until you have to separate the smokescreen from the final punchline."
"...before I knew it, it was 2:30 in the morning and all hopes of a romantic evening with my wife had long since evaporated...
...far more subtle than a straight thriller...
...the storytelling is strong enough to keep you enthralled... with its copious thought-provoking sub-plots.
Just don't start it if you need a good night's sleep."
Motor Boat & Yachting
"Boats have provided some of the best comedy in literature, as well as some of the most engaging thrillers, from Erskine Childers' The Riddle of the Sands to last year's disturbing mystery thriller Something in the Sea by Yves Bonavero"
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