Review Blog

Jun 19 2014

Prisoner of night and fog by Anne Blankman

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Headline Publishing. 2014. ISBN 9781472207821.
Recommended. There are not too many readers who don't enjoy a good murder mystery. Prisoner of night and fog is, in essence, just that - something to keep the reader turning the pages as the heroes search for the truth, face danger, experience betrayal and in amongst it all find love and friendship. However Prisoner of night and fog is so much more than that, set as it is, in the turbulent times of Munich, 1931, when Hitler is on his rapid rise to ultimate power.
The hero of the story is Gretchen Muller who is a favourite to her Uncle Dolf (Hitler) who calls her his 'little sunshine'. At the beginning of the tale she leads a relatively stable life, believing in the doctrines of her uncle and with dreams of becoming a doctor. Her home life is a little difficult as she is required to help her mother in the boardinghouse and is sometimes subject to mistreatment from her brother Reinhard, a member of the thuggish Brownshirts. Then she meets a Jewish reporter who not only raises questions about the death of her father but also causes her to question some firmly held beliefs as she comes to realise that his features 'all combined to make it difficult to remember he wasn't subhuman' (p. 93) as she had been taught. This new understanding is gradually consolidated as she meets other Jews and discovers the real intentions of her Uncle Dolf. As the story progresses Reinhard is revealed for the psychopath that he is and parallels are drawn between him and the Fuhrer by Whitestone, the English doctor who has come to Germany to write a psychological profile of Hitler.
Together with the reporter, Daniel, she sets about to discover, firstly what happened to her father during the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 and indeed who was really responsible for his death. Along the way Daniel and Gretchen face increasing danger, both as their relationship is 'verboten' and because in their search for truth they uncover details, the knowledge of which would see them killed. Their bravery and sometimes recklessness all combine to ensure a thrilling finale.
As Anna Blackman herself says, 'although Prisoner of night and fog is a work of fiction, much of it is rooted in fact' (Author's note p. 361) and it is this which adds tremendously to the quality of this novel.
Barb Rye

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