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The Odessa File | Paperback

Released on 15 June 1995

Author: Frederick Forsyth | Format: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 (2 customer reviews) | Write a review

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Can you forgive the past? It's 1963 and a young German reporter has been assigned the suicide of a holocaust survivor. The news story seems straightforward, this is a tragic insight into one man's suffering. But a long hidden secret is discovered in the pages of the dead man's diary.

customer Reviews

 Average rating (2 reviews)

 A first-class thriller

| | See all MickyValentine's reviews (31)

Top 100 Books Reviewer

Having read The Day of the Jackal I was well aware of the quality that Frederick Forsyth is capable of producing.

This book follows the attempts of a freelance journalist, Phillip Miller, in his attempts to find an SS war criminal, who was responsible for the deaths of thousands in Eastern Europe, who had fled after the Second World War with the help of the former-SS organisation - the Odessa - in order to avoid being tried for his crimes.

Phillip Miller gets involved in the chase for this SS was criminal through the uneventful suicide of a middle-aged man in Hamburg who, apart from a diary that is give to Miller by a police friend, had left few possessions. The diary turns out to be an account of his days in the Riga Ghetto, which was commanded by the very same SS Captain he then sets out to find, as a Jew in Nazi-occupied Germany.

The motive for Miller going after the SS war criminal are never mentioned until later in the book so for a large portion of the book you are left to wander what his motivations are - is it for the money a big scoop would bring? Is it for moral reasons?

The book itself is, as with every book written by Forsyth, well researched and written. I never felt that the book was simply a contrived movement from A to B to C, but moved in the same way that a true piece of investigative journalism would do - moving from one clue to the next and so on. It really did keep me gripped from start to finish.

Overall, an excellently researched book that keeps the suspense, wondering and tension going until the very end.

 Interesting concept but the plot falls flat!

| | See all Magwitch's reviews (1)

Forsyth manages to bring some really deep issues to the surface with his novel. He uncovers the injustice of the modern world and especially within Germany - that the Schutz Staffel are still very much at large, over half of them remaining unpunished for their actions during the holocaust years. He creates an almost Brechtian aroma to his book which makes a reader want to stand up and do something about the injustices described.

However, with such a great context for a novel, the plot and characters actually fall flat on their faces. Over 3/4's of the novel consists of Miller going from A to B in his investigation of the Odessa. When the action finally speeds up and Forsyth's protagonist infiltrates the Odessa - three pages later he is on the run again, monotonously venturing from point A to point B. This inevitably leads to a very un-thrilling anti-climax.

The characters are stock heroes and villains. Miller has very little psychology and the attempt at a twist in the story at the end of the book quite frankly is more obvious than an episode of Eastenders Omnibus. The Nazi's although we dislike them Forsyth fails to make me as a reader hate them. They all seem very bland and stereotypical and they do not have that "spine chilling" effect that so many other thriller writers manage to achieve with ease.

After saying that the factual accuracy of the novel is the obvious strong point and will interest any history enthusiast or someone looking for a mediocre read.

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AuthorFrederick Forsyth
PublisherCornerstone (GB)
Year1995
ISBN9780099552819
FormatPaperback - 432 Pages