"The Alphabet House", by Jussi Adler-Olsen

The Alphabet House - Jussi Adler-Olsen

This is an ambitious psychological thriller that explores the limits of endurance and the irreparable breaches in friendships. This story is extremely detailed and begins in 1944 in the midst of WW11 when a pair of British pilots is shot down over enemy territory.

Right from the first page I was swept along so absorbed by this fantastic story that I hated to put this book down. It starts with an exciting and very tense sky chase, a losing battle for a RAF plane soon shut down in an area swarming with German troops. The two pilots, Bryan and James, took only a few minutes to escape the search party by boarding a passing train reserved for wounded SS men on the way home from the Eastern Front. Once aboard, the only way to blend in was to pose as German soldiers and feign unconsciousness. What actors, they did such a good job impersonating the men they ended up in a mental hospital for those damaged by war. Mr. Alder-Olsen depiction on how they managed to fool everyone feels so real I couldn't help but to shiver when the staff looked upon them.

This first part of the book relates the pilots’ experiences as one of the malingerers at the “Alphabet House”. The narrative switches from Bryan and James as they undergo electroshock therapy and pop pills like candies. Months and months go by faking insanity but they are not the only ones doing so ….several SS soldiers want to get through the war and recover their looted booty…..and the two pilots so happened to be in their ways……The tone shifts to a breath-catching account of survival fueled with paranoia and extreme emotion. This part is very intense and scary.

In the second half, the narrative switches to 1972 and the plot proceed to bring several of the characters together. This long- deferred day of reckoning starts slowly but soon turns into one of the most daring (although far-fetched ) journey I have read in a long time. There is lots of action and sustain suspense at every corner. This book is quite a page-turner and has provided everything I enjoy in a story.

Excellent reading