Bitter Lemon, May 10 2015, $14.95
In 1943 German Major Martin von Bora knows he is fortunate to be alive and also have his mental faculties after the horrors he witnessed at war. Having been transferred from Italy, currently the Wehrmacht Officer Bora serves in Krasny Yar, Northeastern Ukraine.
Using his counter-intelligence position as a cover, Bora investigates what appears to be a series of brutal murders by a deranged most likely villager. However, his superior changes his mission to handle the defection of key Russian Tank Commander General Ghenrikh Tibyetsky just prior to the start of the battle in Kursk. After Bora diligently worked the surrender, the Gestapo swoops in and takes the General with them. Not long after the Gestapo starts their interrogation of the defector, someone murders Tibyetsky and another critical POW. Though the Gestapo ignores the homicides and Bora’s command obediently follow their lead, the Major restarts his aborted inquiry as he feels the Tibyetsky’s poisoning ties to the Krasny Yar horrific homicides.
The captivating fourth Martin Bora WWII drama (see A Dark Song Of Blood, Liar Moon and Lumen) deploys the investigation as a tool to enable the reader to understand the diverse mindsets of war-weary German and Russian soldiers on the bloody Eastern Front. Bora’s efforts engage the audience, but it is Ben Pastor’s profound look at the emotional costs of war that makes her novel one of the best historical of the year.