Verdict: David Morsilli is a superb plotter and creates a disturbing atmosphere of conspiracy at every corner without descending into Oliver Stone la-la-land.
In a dismissive and at times, snotty attack on mystery novels, Edmund Wilson, America’s premier man of letters in the 1940s, did, grudgingly, single out hard-boiled writer Raymond Chandler for praise: “it is not simply a question of a puzzle which has been put together but of a malaise conveyed to the reader, the horror of a hidden conspiracy that is continually turning up in the most varied and unlikely forms.”
I was reminded of this praise when I read David Morsilli’s admirable juggling act of combining the CIA, stolen art, and Hitler into what is essentially a North-By-Northwest chase novel. It is clear that Morsilli has a gift for plot, and his knowledge of World War II is impeccable. But at times his knowledge is expressed in overly-scholarly language, and the reader interested in getting on with it might wish that Morsilli put more of this information into the breathless dialogue of his everyman, David Walker.
Morsilli’s payoff for all the chases and revelations is satisfying, and as advertised, he does make the reader look at World War II differently. Morsilli has supplied an explanation for an enduring mystery that has baffled historians for decades: Why did Adolf Hitler—who had conquered most of Western Europe and had Great Britain on the ropes—make the suicidal decision to turn east and invade the Soviet Union in 1941?
Morsilli provides an intriguing answer but this is dependent upon how one views Hitler. Did Hitler patiently take the long view of history? Or was he determined, as he often said, to rush through his military goals before he died? If one takes the first view, then Morsilli’s plot and mystery are a stroke of genius. If one takes the second, then the reader might find the payoff not so convincing.
But whether one buys into the Nazi-CIA-decades-old-conspiracy Morsilli pushes, the author has such a Chandleresque gift for lurking dangers that the reader will be carried along anyway. Morsilli is a superb plotter and creates a disturbing atmosphere of conspiracy at every corner without descending into Oliver Stone la-la-land.
~Ron Capshaw for IndieReader