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The Alphabet House

The Alphabet House - Jussi Adler-Olsen I got an ebook copy of this from the First to Read program.

Taken as a whole, The Alphabet House is a well-researched story of British soldiers masquerading as SS officer mental patients during WWII and the aftermath of their strange battle to live, which is ultimately damaging for both. It was a good story, imaginative but not too far outside the pale of the possible.

I've read Adler-Olsen's Department Q novels, and this has some of his characteristic elements. The bad guys are very very bad, unmitigated in their evilness. The good guys are a little more complex. In the part of the novel set 30 years after the end of the war, there is some mystery, some action, a story that pulls you along with it effortlessly. But there is little of the humor and charming (heck, even likeable) characters that show up in the Department Q novels.

I do have to say that the first section of the book, which took place during WWII, dragged an awful lot. This is understandable -- after the initial crash and getaway to the mental hospital, there's a lot of laying around doing nothing, knowing nothing, pretending to be crazy because their lives depend on it. So it has tension, but little action. And little dialog, since they're Brits pretending to be Germans, so they don't speak. So no action and no dialog. But those two things are what Adler-Olson does best (beyond the characters in his later works). So... Let me just say that at some point he actually wrote that the months were dragging on, and I said aloud, "tell me about it". But there's some good historical information in there about how SS officers were treated, the treatment of mental patients, and the drugs of the time. Still, they weren't enough for me to love the historical part of it.

Once the timeline advanced the story did as well, and I enjoyed it.