Back from the Dead by Peter Leonard
Peter Leonard has recently published a sequel to Voices of the Dead (Amazon UK, Amazon US, Kindle) which introduced us to Holocaust survivor Harry Levin and Nazi death angel Ernst Hess. Hands up, I haven’t read the first book so I may be at a disadvantage in assessing this but it is the third book in a year that I’ve read that has featured an ex-Nazi prominently but unfortunately it was the least satisfying. I gave high marks to both Ratlines by Stuart Neville and Don’t Ever Get Old by Daniel Friedman but after a promising start this one failed to hold my interest.
Interlocking storylines spanning Germany, USA & the Bahamas start with Hess resurfacing in the Bahamas and his erstwhile associates in Germany retaining a former Stasi agent, Zeller, to track down his whereabouts presumably to relieve him of his Nazi art haul. He quickly tracks Hess to the USA and ultimately drags Harry Levin back into the equation. While I initially found the writing appealing it wasn’t enough to overcome what I found to be strangely disjointed and unsatisfying. On the flip side, it did prove educational in relation to aspects of the Holocaust in particular the role of sonderkommando and the fact that Auschwitz was the only camp where prisoners were tattooed plus I did like the references to real-life individuals such as Albert Speer which help to lend an air of authenticity but this was outweighed by the inclusion of characters that were near irrelevant and distracting (Zeller’s redneck assistants Dink and Squirrel) while Zeller himself seemed to be eliminated far too easily for an ex-Stasi man while Harry’s sidekick Cordell’s sideshow with some Colombian drug dealers could have been excised completely.
My rating is 6 out of 10 but probably best suited to those who are looking to re-engage with these characters having read the previous book, otherwise there are probably more interesting books out there.
Bahamas, 1971. Ernst Hess, missing and presumed dead, regains consciousness to find himself stuck in a hospital bed on a strange ward in a foreign country. He must do what he needs to do to get his life back and to finish the job he has been doing for decades.
Harry believes he has already stopped Hess. When he finds out that the war criminal has somehow survived, Harry must do the only thing he can do – kill Hess again – even if it means crossing continents and putting his life and the lives of those that matter to him on the line.