The Affairs of the Generals

The Affairs of the Generals

It seems like such a natural marriage - the corrupt and criminal Nazi regime with the classic fictional detective devoted to justice - that's it's surprising that so few writers have merged setting with theme. Among the top rank of mystery writers today, only Phillip Kerr, channelling Raymond Chandler and J. Robert Janes, inspired by Rex Stout, are in print.

But long before Bernie Gunther and St-Cyr and Kohler, there were Hans Helmut Kirst's Lt. Colonel Grau and Inspector Prevert, and great as Kerr and Janes are, there is no competition.

When a horrible murder is committed in Warsaw, Col. Grau, and, later, Inspector Prevert doggedly pursue the guilty party. It is one of three Wehrmacht Generals and long before the guilty party is revealed about half way through the book, anyone paying attention will have figured out who's guilty.

But that isn't the point of the novel. First of all, Kirst has bigger fish to fry. He has something to say about the role of a general in society. This is one of those rare anti-war books for grown up minds, but it is not anti-military. The author, one of whose great stylistic devices is to insert documents into the text to add verisimilitude and to include his own theory of duty and honor without disrupting the flow of the story, has a short excerpt at the end of the book on the special duty of generals in society which should be required reading at the Command and General Staff School.

But Kirst was always a great novelist in addition to a philosopher and the real delight in this novel is to watch Prevert set the trap which captures the guilty party (while acting as Cupid on the side). The last 80 or so pages are like a symphony in prose: so many pieces come together so seamlessly that it is one of the great memorable passages in detective fiction.

Hans Helmut Kirst was a great comic author, whose humor is so dark that he shows up Joseph Heller as the juvenile vaudvillean he was. Night of the Generals combines the genres of dark satire, gripping mystery and thoughtful political philosophy.

Books Detail
Book Status Readable
No Of Pages 319 Pages
Book Cover Paper Back
Author Name Hans Hellmut Kirst
Publisher Fawcett
Online Store Price Rs.300
ISBN-13 O343

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Tags: Fiction, Suspense And Thriller, The Affairs of the Generals, Hans Hellmut Kirst