Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Review of The Arms Maker of Berlin by Dan Fesperman
The Arms Maker of Berlin is a curious book. It’s essentially an Indiana Jones-style hunt for important historical documents, with a tangle of individuals and groups also after the prize. It’s a book that left me a little conflicted. It really shouldn’t have worked. The prose was workmanlike and sometimes clunky. The characters were stock, and fairly thinly drawn, and the dialogue often wooden. And the plot was pure fantasy and ridiculous in places. And yet, despite all that it kind of works, in the same way as some Hollywood action films work – the Indiana Jones movies, for example. It has goodies and baddies (and it’s not always clears who is which), a splash of romance, some intrigue and mystery, a dash of suspense and violence, and a veneer of historical respectability. Which kind of compensated for the other shortcomings. There are lots of better crime/thrillers concerning the Second World War from Philip Kerr, Alan Furst, John Lawton and others, but if you like an Indiana Jones-style yarn this might be for you.