Monday, October 5, 2015
Review of The Pale House by Luke McCallin (No Exit Press, 2015)
The Pale House is the second book in the Captain Gregor Reinhardt series. Reinhardt joined the police after the First World War, rising to become a detective inspector in the Berlin Kripo before joining the Abwehr and the fringes of the German resistance. In the closing stages of the Second World War he finds himself in Sarajevo as the partisans close in, working for the military police. The city is in turmoil as the Germans prepare to retreat and the Croatian Ustaše lash out at the civilian population, knowing they are about to be overrun. Despite sense of impending doom and savagery, McCallin has Reinhardt conduct a murder investigation, weaving a clever, compelling and somewhat complex plot. He very nicely captures the fear at work in the city, the tension within the German ranks and between them and their Croatian collaborators. Reinhardt is a somewhat sombre character, but his principles and role as a flawed but ‘good German’ in a corrupt regime makes him an interesting anti-hero. The other characters are well penned, though given the case and situation, they’re all a pretty rum lot. I particularly liked the very strong sense of place and it’s clear that McCallin has done his historical research, yet it doesn't dominate the story but rather provides good context. Overall, an excellent historical crime tale and a strong addition to what’s shaping up to be a very good series.