From Publishers Weekly
In this murky police procedural from Canadian author Janes (Kaleidoscope, etc.), the mystery world's most bizarre partnership Jean-Louis St-Cyr, a Vichy France policeman, and Hermann Kohler, a member of the German Gestapo travel from their Paris base in January 1943 to coastal Brittany to investigate the murder of a shopkeeper. Accused of the crime is a highly regarded German U-boat captain, a protg of Admiral Doenitz. The novel's portrait of occupied France is compelling: the local people are consumed by the realities of wartime deprivation, material and psychological. The plot itself has that kind of muddled complexity typical of many noirish procedurals, but in this case the author's contorted prose makes it more than merely difficult to grasp. The point of view shifts constantly, not just between the two partners, but among virtually everyone of any import, and the reader must often decipher a character's thoughts before the character speaks. At times, the novel reads as if it has been translated, badly, from another language. Janes's penchant for untranslated French and German phrases becomes tiresome, and doesn't really add to the illusion that the novel is set in Europe. Murder is, inevitably, a dark business, but narratives about it deserve more clarity than this novel ever demonstrates. And murder, no matter how compelling, simply cannot compete with the drama that nearly destroyed Europe during WWII. Nonetheless, established fans should enjoy this one as much as others in this nine-book series. (May)for children.
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Barry Longyear's 1979 story, "Enemy Mine," concerns two soldiers, one human and one alien, opponents in an intergalactic war, who crash-land on a strange planet and become reluctant allies and, finally, friends. That is, metaphorically, the premise of Canadian novelist Janes' excellent series of mysteries set during the Nazi occupation of France (in Janes' hands, an alien landscape) and featuring the team of Jean-Louis St-Cyr (of the French Surete) and Hermann Kohler (of the German Gestapo). The latest installment, which takes place in January 1943, concerns a U-boat captain accused of murder; the evidence seems conclusive, and Hitler's naval chief is pressing for a speedy resolution. Can St-Cyr and Kohler ensure that the alleged killer gets a fair shake? Along with a compelling mystery, we have Janes' sure grasp of period detail and his seamless way of mixing fact and fiction. We also have St-Cyr and Kohler themselves, two opposing soldiers forced to forge an alliance. In a genre filled with unusual characters, they remain two of mystery fiction's most original creations. David PittCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved