© 2015 Phillip Kerr
The Lady from Zagreb is a very well-done detective novel, putting its wartime Europe setting to good effect and linking several mysteries together. The humor is biting, as ever; on learning that a fellow officer is writing yet another novel, Gunther comments that there will always be room in Germany for more novels, provided his countrymen keep burning them. In an early scene, a man is literally killed by Hitler; a bust of Adolf is used as a bludgeon. Against the backdrop of both the Holocaust and the obscene carnage of Yugoslavia, however, even that humor fails to prevent this from being an utterly distressing novel, set in a land of desecration and filled with horror and manipulation. Not even Gunther's relationship with Dalia is free from the cloud of horror, unsurprising given Goebbels' close presence. Certainly there's no fault in creativity or research; the book is littered with odd little details that must have been strange research finds, like a U-boat parked on the autobahn; one of Gunther's escapes is especially captivating. As thrilling as it is, Zagreb is more than touch dispiriting on the whole, however.