Books

by J. Sydney Jones
Mysterious Press, December 2016, $14.95

The Edit is an at times rambling, but always interesting, psychological thriller set in an unnamed Central American country during the mid-1990s. Its narrator, a nameless, aging war criminal—convicted in absentia for his role in the deportation of Jews across Nazi-occupied Europe during the Second World War—is in an uncharacteristically nostalgic mood. He develops a compulsion to document his experiences as an officer in Heinrich Himmler’s Schutzstaffel, or SS, during the war where he served in Vienna as Adolf Eichmann’s assistant and later at Auschwitz.

A paranoid man, always fearful of discovery by Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal or the Israelis, he is suspicious when Irish journalist Kate O’Brien contacts him for a short-notice boat charter to research a story about sport fishing. He is certain she is using the charter as an excuse to get close to him and obtain evidence of his Nazi past, and when he finds her snooping around his manuscript his suspicions are proven correct. He considers killing Kate, but ultimately decides to keep her locked in a vault-like room in the basement of his home.

The narrator casts himself as an urbane, gentle, kind man while describing, in shadowy snippets at first and then in darker detail, his wartime atrocities. His is a backwards world where good is bad and bad is good. He views Kate as an inconsiderate guest when she takes little joy in his efforts to provide her a comfortable life. The war criminal becomes the victim, in his twisted view, and the victim the criminal. The Edit is a sometimes ugly, but fascinating examination of good and evil.

Ben Boulden

A sometimes ugly, but fascinating examination of good and evil in a story about the psyche of a former war criminal.

Teri Duerr
5584
Jones
December 2016
the-edit
14.95
Mysterious Press

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