Monday, May 24, 2010

Six Graves To Munich - Mario Puzo

Six Graves To Munich
Mario Puzo (writing as Mario Cleri)
New American Library


During WWII, genius Michael Rogan worked as a code breaker for the Allies. He devised a plan that would require him to be placed in France, in order to cut down on message transmission time. During his time there, he got married to a girl in the French Resistance. On D-Day, the message traffic was so frantic that he somehow became careless. He slipped up, and because of his mistake, he, his pregnant wife, his wife’s family, and several Resistance operatives were captured by the Nazis.

Of course, the Nazis wanted the codes. In the end, they shot Rogan in the head. By some fluke, the bullet deflected and left him alive and alone with a silver plate in his skull. He knows he’ll never live a full life. But he hopes to have enough time to track down and kill the men who interrogated and ‘killed’ him. He’s had ten years to accumulate as much information as possible, and even at that, his files are not complete. Even so, the time has come to begin his revenge.

Keep in mind that this is a reprint of a novel published in 1967, so Rogan would have been in his late thirties or early forties during the story. I expected the novel to feel dated, but aside from advances in communications technology, it really didn’t. Rogan is no hero; he’s deeply flawed and he knows it. The story makes no real moral judgment about his actions; they’re simply presented as the path he feels he must take. In context, it seems more than plausible.

The narrative feels a bit constricted, since we see and hear everything through Rogan’s eyes and ears. Given the subject matter, this choice makes sense. It’s an intensely personal crusade; the first-person pov gives everything more immediacy. The narrative flows very smoothly and seems to move quite quickly, punctuated by a few quiet, more ruminative interludes. Fans of thrillers and of this era in particular should be interested in this novel from the author of “The Godfather.”

Rating: 7 ½
May 2010
ISBN# 978-0-451-23059-1 (trade paperback)


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