June 24, 2013

Thrills Not Lost in Translation: a review of David Khara's "The Bleiberg Project"

The Bleiberg Project
by David Khara
English translation by Simon John (2013)
originally published in French (2010)
ISBN: 978-0-9853206-9-0 (Kindle)

Jeremy Novacek starts off as a bit of an a-hole in The Bleiberg Project. David Khara's protagonist is a rich, spoiled, sulking, self-destructive booze-hound with every privilege at his disposal after making a killing on Wall Street. But he's got daddy issues. Heck, who doesn't.

When Jeremy receives word that his estranged father died, a man he never really knew, a series of events kicks off that has Jeremy following in his father's footsteps to solve a mystery behind a Nazi conspiracy that all stems from a key with a Swastika insignia. Jeremy has ghosts of his own, still tormenting by a drunk driving accident when his alcoholism was at its worst, but his now-dead father's ghosts veer more into obsession, as Jeremy gradually learns more and more about why his father abandoned him and his mother all those years ago.

Aided by an attractive federal agent in learning his father's secrets, Jeremy becomes embroiled in a cat-and-mouse race for answers against a secret group that seems hellbent on stopping them. Throw in an assassin with motivations of his own enterting the mix, and this novel really doesn't have a chance to slow down.

If there was a gripe to be found, I'd have to say it was the regular switches in point of view. Half of the novel is told through a first-person account of Jeremy's thoughts and actions, while the other half is told in third-person, including periodic flashbacks to Nazi-ruled Germany. I'm a reader accustomed to reading stories that have one style of PoV, so the switches from first-person to third-person felt like speedbumps while reading. And scenes told in third-person that featured Jeremy were confusing at times, since I figured those scenes would be kept in his point of view. Other than that though, the actual story flowed well and offered a refreshing twist on conspiracy theories surrounding WW2.

The novel is subtitled "A Consortium Thriller", so I assume there is a followup novel in existence in France. I just wonder how long I'll have to wait for an English translation.

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