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  • an historic thriller with twists and turns

    ‘The German Client’ is a wartime thriller from the pen of Italian author, Bruno Morchio. Originally written in his native language, I read a version translated into American-English. The book is divided into three threads; we meet Bacci Pagano, a present day private detective, when he’s waiting for news of his girlfriend, Jasmine, who has been seriously injured by a drugs trafficking ring. Then Professor Kurt Hessen enters the story. He was born as a result of an affair between Tilde, a local teenage factory worker and a disillusioned Wehrmacht officer, Hauptmann Helmut Hessen. The professor believes he has a half-brother, born after the war when his birth mother had another child and he wants Pagano to find his sibling. The third thread is probably the most absorbing from my point-of-view and concentrates on Tilde’s role in the partisan movement based in Sestri Ponente, in 1944. Pagano’s sections are written in the first person and the past tense and Tilde’s story is told in the third person and the present tense. It was definitely an unusual structure but I quickly got used to the format. Taking Professor Hessen’s commission, Pagano spends time with the elderly PAG (Patriotic Act Group) partisans to try to throw light on events from more than half a century ago. Are their memories failing them or are they deliberately misleading him to prevent him from learning the truth? There are things they’re reluctant to discuss; is this purely down to their resistance experiences or something even more haunting? I like the cover and feel it conveys a strong sense of wartime Italy. The author’s blend of fact with fiction is clever and I was interested to find out about his association with the area. I wasn’t sure the thread with Jasmine was necessary and became slightly impatient when we left the main plot to explore her backstory but in retrospect, I think her experiences of kidnap and torture mirrored that of the partisans who were captured by enemy forces. The author is demonstrating that such horrors are not consigned to the past. We witness fear, betrayal, guilt, pain and sacrifice, contrasting with pride, hope, determination, resilience and love. We have some strong characterisations; we see the menace of Maestri, an Italian collaborator who relishes his role in the new regime, the hopelessness of Hessen who has lost his wife and three young daughters to an allied bomb and the perseverance of Pagano to fulfil the task set by Professor Hessen. Tilde is perhaps the strongest character of all. She finds a way to survive in a country ravaged by war. Working for the partisans to free Italy whilst at the same time knowing an allied bomb could destroy her family and Biscia, her boyfriend, at any moment. If you enjoy an historic thriller with twists and turns and an unexpected dénouement, then this book is for you.

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  • WW2 Thriller

    Really involving story. The book goes back and forth between a story about Italian partisans in WW2 and an investigation in the present day. You can't really see how they connect until the end but it was very satisfying. This was the first Bacci Pagano book I've read but I will look for the next one. The author has a very entertaining and realistic style.

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  • A Riveting, Rewarding Read!

    A tale of two halves: then and now, both gripping! PI Bacci Pagano is seated in a hospital corridor, hoping that prostitute Jasmine will recover from her injuries to enable her to contribute to bringing a notorious human trafficking ring to justice. While he waits, he is approached by a German man who wishes to employ him to find his Italian half brother. Despite misgivings Pagano accepts the job, allowing us to discover all about how the second world war affected the area. This is a beautifully told story, and the translation is so perfect that it's hard to believe it wasn't written in English in the first place. Absolutely riveting and it kept me enthralled to the very end. What a tale! I'm always drawn to novels about how ordinary people survived wartime and this one is both exciting and unpredictable. My heart wept for the characters but, at the same time, I was full of admiration for their courage and commitment. A very satisfying read, and one I'm happy to recommend. 4.5* stars from me, and a fervent hope that more of this series will find it's way into translation.

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  • The German Client

    Enjoyed how the author went back and forth from past and present. Will look for other books by this author.

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