Silence by Mechtild Bormann (transaltion by Aubrey Botsford)
Book Description: August 1939: six young people band together in the face of war-torn Germany, their friendship about to be put on trial as they land on opposite sides of World War II. Flash forward to November 1997: Robert Lubisch brings the group back together for the first time in decades to investigate a tragic family secret.
(Winner of the 2012 Deutscher Krimi Prize for best crime novel.)
The description is misleading, I think, as Robert doesn't really bring the group back together and not everyone survived the war.
After his father's death, Robert Lubisch finds a photograph of a young woman among his father's things. Robert didn't get along with his father, but decides to see what he can find out about the woman in the photo which was taken during the war. Was she his father's lover?
What he does is set off a chain of events that he is unable to foresee, and the story moves back and forth between the war years and present day. It doesn't take long for Robert to become uneasy about what he might discover. The journalist he involves in finding out who the woman was sees the possibility of a good story to sell, and when Robert wants her to abandon her investigation, she refuses.
The flashbacks to the war years tell a story of friends whose loyalties and affections gradually deteriorate. The war and some of the individuals who rise to power have an impact on each of the friends. Secrets are kept and revealed. Certain elements feel inevitable and depressing- as the effects of failing to adhere strictly to the party line are felt. Jealousy, fear, distrust, and betrayal strain the relationships of the young people.
Eventually, Robert must step back into the investigation when he is among the suspects of a murder; discovering the truth about the past may be the only way to prove his innocence. While some of the outcomes seem inevitable, there are twists that keep things interesting and affect the outcome.
Mystery. May 5, 2015. Print length: 228 pages.