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“Second Violin ”


written by Harriet Klausner on 06/09/2008

Second Violin
John Lawton
Atlantic Monthly, Nov 2008, $24.00
ISBN: 087113991X

In 1938 the latest European war seems imminent. The London based Sunday Post owned by Alexei Troy covers the growing hostilities; in fact Alexei's oldest son Rod is the paper's star reporter on the continent; working in Vienna. Back home Alexei's other son Frederick has become a Scotland Yard Murder Squad Investigator.

Rod learns that when his father lived in Vienna years ago, he was a patient of the imminent Dr. Sigmund Freud and that he was actually born near the Danube not the Thames as he once believed. However, Rod knows it is time to stop musing or for that matter reporting as the increasing violence of Hitler minions has reached Vienna so he needs to get his family out.

In London, Alex meets the country's leaders as peace in our times is over and war with Hitler about to begin. A Russian-Englishman, Alex rips into his birth country for considering appeasement with the Nazis, who he knows will not stop in Poland.

Frederick is assigned to a goon squad arresting anyone who might have Nazi, German or Italian loyalties; these suspects are shipped to the Isle of Man. While Hitler sends his air force to bomb the English into submission, someone kills a rabbi in a hit and run incident. When a second rabbi is murdered in his synagogue, Frederick is assigned the case to insure that some Hitler sympathizer is not performing a local final solution.

This is an excellent WW II historical thriller that contains three strong subplots; each well written and connected through the Try bloodline. The storyline is fast-paced whether it is on Vienna, the streets of London or Parliament. Fans will appreciate John Lawton's brisk expanded Frederick Troy thriller that fascinatingly goes back a decade plus from the usual Freddie Troy police procedurals.

Harriet Klausner

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