- Hardcover: 229 pages
- Publisher: St Martins Pr; 1 edition (February 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312269544
- ISBN-13: 978-0312269548
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,445,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Crimes of War Hardcover – February 1, 2001
From Publishers Weekly
Vancouver prosecutor Hogg's first novel, winner of the 1999 Robertson Davies/Chapters Prize, pits a downsized Nazi hunter against a former Nazi, both living in obscurity in contemporary Canada. At 33, Ottawa historian Dennis Connor has the thankless job of shutting down a minor government agency responsible for bringing ex-Nazis to justice. For six years, the agency has proven ineffective in pursuing its prey, its key court case falling victim to the ravages of time and bureaucratic infighting. Now only a few employees, empty offices and file boxes full of documents are left. As a parting gesture, Connor sends excerpts from one of the files to its subject, Friedrich Reile, a Winnipeg widower who once served as an SS officer in the Ukraine. Psychologically and emotionally disconnected from his youthful crimes, Reile is propelled by Connor's missives to recall his wartime experiences. In 1941, at the age of 17, he volunteered to translate for the Germans, and soon found himself a member of the Einsatzkommandos, rounding up Ukrainian Jews and helping to shoot and bury them in country ravines. Harsh memories do not end with the war. Reile remembers how colleagues are caught and convicted by the Allies while he escapes with the aid of a nurturing wife, a few lies and the exchange of some useful information, eventually making his way to Winnipeg. Hogg fills his grueling tale with starkly realistic detail, describing the sight, smell and feel of the trucks used to transport victims to their instant graves, and showing how Reile and his fellow soldiers grow numb to their crimes. Connor's largely ineffectual stabs at action make him a disappointing hero, but the novel's real drama resides in the morality tale he uncovers.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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This was not the case in "Crimes of War." Hogg has put a monumental amount of thought and effort into making this book not only enjoyable, but emotionally stirring. The main character, like Hogg himself once did, works in the special division of the Canadian Government that tracks down escaped world war II criminals in Canada.
Time, however, has made this government office obsolete. The Nazis are dying of old age, and, worse, so are the victims who could identify them even if they were arrested. The office is being closed, and Hogg's protagonist, Dennis Connor, has the distinctly unpleasant duty of being the last one there to shut it down, lock the door, and leave the keys behind.
But first, there is one more criminal he knows has escaped into Canada: Reile.
Alternating between the view of the war criminal, the protagonist, and dancing between the present and the past, this book is highly evocative. There is a real humanization of the Nazi who is old aged and ailing, and hiding in Canada. Hogg's novel dares to explore what the mass murderers of world war two were like on an individual level - and without pulling punches: Riele is not an apparent monster.
As the back of the book says, "Does it makes sense to pursue old men in their seventies or eighties for what they did, under orders, in the tumoil of war in Europe fifty years earlier?" "How can the forces of justive ignore mass murderers among us, regardless of how much time has elapsed since they killed their last child?"
The questions, and the book's characters, are disturbing, and dead-on accurate. This is not a light read, nor an easy one, but a very rewarding one. I promise you'll put "Crimes of War" down with many new thoughts.