From Publishers Weekly
Wallner's harrowing debut, a love story of sorts though there's little romance, rings with authenticity. In 1943, Corporal Roth, a 22-year-old translator in the German occupation forces in France, is reassigned to SS headquarters in Paris, where his job is to translate the confessions of members of the resistance as they are being tortured. While strolling through the city, Roth encounters a beautiful young woman and is instantly smitten. Because he can speak French flawlessly, Roth takes the identity of "Antoine" and pursues the young lady, Chantal, with tragic results. Chantal is a member of the French resistance, and while Roth isn't a coldhearted Nazi, he is a German and his obsession leads him ever downward until he's accused of being a traitor. Many European imports these days read like pale imitations of genre novels by Americans, but this sterling period piece will strike readers as distinctively and refreshingly German in its concerns. (Apr.)
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It is 1943 in Paris. Corporal Roth, a 22-year-old German soldier, has the ability to speak unaccented French, so his superiors adjust his orders. He now works for the SS, serving as translator in the gestapo's interrogation room. He can't stomach their torture of Resistance fighters but doesn't question his role, though he longs for the ordinariness of daily life. While in disguise as a French civilian--a crime of high treason--he meets Chantal, an antiquarian bookseller's daughter, and falls in love. But the naive Roth doesn't realize the SS and the Resistance have feelers out everywhere, and nothing remains secret for long. This fast-paced thriller about a young man's unforeseen moral dilemma delivers suspense all the way through to its unexpected ending. Tragic love stories set in occupied France are hardly unique, yet Wallner rises above this overused plotline with his stylish, readable language (with just enough French to convey atmosphere); lovingly depicted Parisian setting; and well-done characterizations. Think Alan Furst with a different sort of hero, and a darker, more visceral edge. Sarah Johnson
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