I received this book through Booksprout as an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) in exchange for a review. I received no compensation other than the fun of reading the book. This was a challenging book to read for two main reasons. The style of writing in which the story was written made it occasionally difficult to determine which character was dominant and presenting a point of view. The second difficulty might be due to the format of an ARC. There are distracting spelling irregularities and clumsy phrasing such as “Could have they come all the way here …” (Kindle locations 1814-1815). While I do not consider the phrase wrong, it reads like an outdated, formal style. I don’t know whether changes are planned before final publication but I feel this novel should go through one more examination by a copy editor. Otherwise, it reads as if it were written by an accomplished writer whose second language is English.
This is a 4.5 Amazon star read. I would give it five stars if there were changes to some of the phrasing. The story is very interesting with small surprises occurring throughout and two huge surprises at the end. The last surprise is presented in the form of a question and should provoke a lot of reader thought. The story’s surface level is well presented in Chapter One, The Trial. The protagonist, Mateus Esperanca, has a name that the reader can almost safely forget. His real name is Klaus Holland, a former commandant of a Nazi death camp. He had been living under the name Esperanca in Brazil until his true identity was discovered and reported to authorities. In Chapter One we read Holland’s methods of deciding who would die and when. There was no question that everyone would die, but they would die according to Holland’s “format,” a method he detailed to the court with pride. The court accepted his guilty admission of killing more than three hundred thousand Jews and sentenced him to death by a unique method. First surprise. This is the only chapter where the story is told on a surface level but the “hook” presented spurred me to read the novel in one session
Over the next ten chapters, the story is told on a surface and secondary, deeper level in tandem. In print, the book is ninety-nine pages so it could theoretically be a fast read. If a reader accepts the author’s invitation to examine on a deeper level the motivation of several characters for their actions, the novel will take longer. I could not find any character that could be described as “normal.” Every character was twisted either as they embraced their flaws or were forced to act in terrible ways for their survival. Klaus Holland’s casual acceptance of death and complete willingness to kill to avoid possible, not certain, future problems is a horror show all by itself. His very existence dooms anyone in his realm of relationships to either physical or moral extinction.
Readers who will enjoy this novel are fans of philosophy and logic. Klaus knows that his actions are outside what is acceptable behavior to most. He rationalizes it through detailed internal dialogues and these are fascinating to read. This is a character no one would want to meet; they probably would not know the true character if such a meeting took place. I highly recommend this novel despite phrasing and writing style. It is a psychological thriller without claiming to be one.