The Kingdom of Ashes, By Robert Edric

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The Independent Culture

It is the spring of 1946 in the German town of Rehstadt. Captain Alex Foster is attempting to help pick up the post-war pieces: interrogating suspected war criminals, dealing with black marketeers, and indulging in some fraternisation with his sexy German secretary, Eva Remer.

Robert Edric conveys the gloom of that spring of little hope; the miserable weather, the poverty, the festering resentments, the lingering violence. The Allies do not entirely hold the moral high ground. Foster is under pressure from his bullying boss to stitch up innocent suspects, because the Americans want to see them in the dock. It's all too clear that victor's justice is no such thing.

The only flaw in this big, complex, hyper-real historical novel is the central figure: Alex is naive, well meaning and powerless, but he's much less interesting than the morally ambiguous situation in which he finds himself.

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