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Leonard, Peter - 'Voices of the Dead'
Trade Paperback: 336 pages (Jan. 2012) Publisher: Faber and Faber ISBN: 0571271499

It is 1971 in Detroit, Michigan, USA where Harry Levin has his business. Harry is a wealthy scrap metal dealer and also a Holocaust survivor. One day he is horrified to learn that his only daughter has been killed in a car accident in Washington DC where she attended university. Harry, of course, travels the next day to Washington where he is advised by a Detective Taggart that the German diplomat responsible for taking his daughter's life was a drunk driver and has narrowly avoided prosecution by claiming diplomatic immunity.

Harry learns of the identity of the diplomat but as he cannot get any justice in the USA he decides to journey to Munich where the German has returned in an effort to try and track him down. This multi-faceted "cat and mouse" style thriller is a two-hander and interlaced with Harry's effort to track down the diplomat, are his experiences in Munich at an earlier time in 1942, where his parents were before they were all shipped off to Dachau concentration camp and killed. Harry managed with the help of his father to escape the clutches of the Nazis.

Harry learns that the diplomat that killed his daughter was a former German SS Officer in the war and was complicit in the murder of his parents who were taken from Dachau with many others and shot by soldiers and then had their bodies dumped in mass graves. Harry learns that after the war the "diplomat" was involved in the reconstruction of Germany and ended up managing a large construction company. The diplomat is still involved in doing his part in the "final solution".

Harry is anxiously trying to implicate the German for killing his daughter and has many adventures along the way both in and around Munich and later back in the USA. The story finishes in a satisfactory way but also with a cliff-hanger which will be dealt with in the following book, BACK FROM THE DEAD, when it is published in 2013.

The author has done his research and this story is quite evocative of both the 1940s and the 1970s and has a great charm and authenticity, which made it very attractive. The story moves at quite a pace. I had enjoyed his previous book ALL HE SAW WAS THE GIRL, which I thought was very light, but this story is quite different and the author has given the seriousness of the story the gravity it needs. The author is the son of US crime writer Elmore Leonard, so he comes with a very good pedigree and this is his fourth novel. I enjoyed it very much and I'm sure you will also.

Read another review of VOICES OF THE DEAD.

Terry Halligan, England
October 2011

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 26/01/2013 11:25