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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
The first two novels in the Douglas Brodie series were very good noir thrillers - fast-paced, explosive and full of black humour. This one is very different and takes the Brodie series to another and much darker level.

Brodie is asked to investigate a spate of burglaries in Glasgow's post-war Jewish community. But when the burglar is found murdered it gradually becomes clear that there is a connection that leads back to the horrors of the concentration camps - horrors that Brodie has been trying to forget since his role as interrogator of war criminals after the war.

Ferris handles this dark and difficult subject with a great deal of sensitivity and humanity. The details he gives of some of the dreadful acts that were carried out in the camps are kept to the minimum necessary for the development of the story - Ferris carefully avoids the use of gratuitous detail. Instead he concentrates on how these events are still affecting his characters, including a very moving portrayal of what we would now call post-traumatic stress disorder. As I read, I couldn't help but think of the men of my father's generation, the ones who came back - a generation who mainly bottled up their feelings about their war experiences, who talked of the camaraderie of war but not the horrors, and I felt that in some way Ferris was giving these men a voice that the stiff-upper-lip culture of the time had perhaps denied them.

But although the subject matter means that this book is much darker than the previous ones, this is also a first-rate, tightly plotted thriller - well-paced, plenty of action and still with room for occasional flashes of humour. Brodie's relationship with Sam is developed further and Danny McRae, hero of Ferris' other series, plays a part in this one too. In a previous review, I compared Gordon Ferris to Ian Rankin. This book leads me to compare him to Reginald Hill, an author who could give his readers intelligently light entertainment in one book then take them to the darkest places of the human soul in the next. I've thoroughly enjoyed all of the Brodie books but this one also moved me deeply - highly recommended.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2013
The black humour is great, loved Douglas and Dannie together. The dark days after the War, and the Glasgow environment were perfectly depicted.
I was waiting for this book to come out, and I loved it.
I have now read all of Gordon Ferris books, and I have recommended them to all my family and friends, read them in sequence and enjoy!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 23 March 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I haven't yet read The Hanging Shed but I considered Bitter Water a great read, and this one, though very different, impressed me just as much.
I read this book on one of the coldest days of the present 'spring' so it was not very hard to appreciate the cold that dominates this novel.
1947. Worst winter of the century. Snow piled in ever-deepening drifts in Glasgow, in Britain, in Hamburg. As a child I well remember that winter!
Brodie is still working for his newspaper, still doing a bit of detective work on the side. Jewish friends employ him to investigate a series of robberies and very soon the story is knee deep in violence and murder.
However, this time the violence spreads beyond Glasgow, to the concentration camps of WW2 and to the post war trials. Brodie was involved in the interrogation of Nazi officials as a Major in the army at the end of the war, and through his lawyer girlfriend and people very high up in the police and intelligence he is persuaded to return to the army on a limited contract and go to Hamburg to give evidence but also to ask questions about possible escape routes for leading Nazis still being used post war.
Brodie, beginning to realise and cope with the extent to which he has been traumatised by his war experiences; Samantha, lawyer, and his landlady and lover; Danny McRae, an old friend who's war has deeply affected him as well; the Glasgow Jewish community and its reactions to the struggle for the state of Israel; the cops, good and bad; the hunters and the hunted; post war Glasgow itself, all make this a complex and deeply satisfying read. The twist at the end came as a surprise.
I'm very much looking forward to the next Brodie book, and to catching up with Danny McRae, and wondering where the series will go from here.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 21 March 2013
Gordon Ferris books are set in post-war Glasgow and they have a gritty realism that I love. The main character is a former soldier who has turned reporter/ detective and who is struggling to comprehend the things he witnessed in the second world war. Ferris' books are real page-turners & I would thoroughly recommend to all. I would think this is particularly suited to readers who may be familiar with Glasgow and those who may remember Britian in the late 1940's.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2013
The exquiste combination of truth and fiction, where much of the former which still lives so fresh in the minds of many people alive today,gives for a fast paced read where you have a vested interest in Brodie's quest to recapture the Nazis at large in his city.Reality is never compromised for a twist, historical fact never sacrificed for added pathos or gristle. The grim subject matter needs no embelishment and remains paramount throughout, but is tempered by the wonderfully drawn loving relationship between Brodie and his professional woman Sam ,bound by the confines of the day which dictate that a woman cannot be both married and a working Barrister! Let them find a way round this in the next book which I eagerly await ,however will the bringing together of Ferris's two good guys for the first time, Brodie and his old Army mucker McCrae from London, mean we are to lose out on two books at a time now?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 October 2013
Gordon Ferris has emerged as a writer of engaging fiction over the last two or three years and has developed two principal protagonists, each featuring in their own series of novels set in the immeidate aftermath of the Second World War. "Truth, Dare, Kill" and "The Unquiet Heart" have featured Danny McRae, former Detective Sergeant from Glasgow CID, now relocated to post-War London where he is trying to make his way as a private detective. Meanwhile "The Hanging Shed" and "Bitter Water" have featured Douglas Brodie, also formerly of Glasgow CID and now working as a crime reporter on a leading local paper (could it possibly, by any chance be supposed to be "The Herald", I wonder!?), but also venturing into the world of private detection. In this gripping novel we learn that they had previously worked together and been friendly, and they are reunited.

This novel is certainly gripping, even if it dwells on horrific aftermaths of the war. In January 1947, during a particularly bleak and cold winter, Brodie is commissioned to investigate a series of recent burglaries of the homes of Jewish families in and around Glasgow's run-down Gorbals area. It immediately becomes apparent that it is no coincidence that the victims are all Jewish; they are being deliberatly targeted. The local police seem scarcely interested, and Brodie decides to take the case on. Meanwhile, his barrister partner Samantha is called upon to assist the prosecution in the latest wave of trials of war criminals in Hamburg. We also learn that Brodie, during his war service, had been present at the liberation of some of the concentration camps, and had led the initial questioning of the Nazi war criminals responsible for the despicable acts perpetrated therein. Their two investigations become increasingly enmeshed as it emerges that one of the "rat lines" that assisted Nazi war criminals to escape justice was channeling them through Scotland. As a further complication, there is ferment within the Jewish community over the role of the British Army in, as they see it, delaying their access to the new state of Israel.

The plot is grim but watertight, and the characterisation is compelling. Brodie is a likeable character, not least because he is flawed. he drinks too much, and he is occasionally incapable of reining in his temper. Passions are raised as vigilantes end up clashing with police.

All in all a very enjoyable read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Douglas Brodie is an ex-policeman from Kilmarnock. Sickened by the corruption he sees on the Glasgow police force he joins up at the start of the Second World War. He is a good and brave soldier who rises through the ranks to Major and gains a Military Cross. He ends his war interrogating war criminals at Belsen. These experiences scar him, perhaps irrevocably.

Pilgrim Soul is the third book about Brodie. It works well as a stand-alone book, but, as always, the experience is richer if you have read the first two (both of which are excellent crime thrillers).

This book starts in much the same way as the first two. Brodie is back in Glasgow, working as a crime reporter on the Gazette. It is not long after the end of the action in Bitter Water and everyone is suffering from the ramifications. Brodie is still lodging with Samantha Campbell and is still uncertain as to the nature of their relationship. But he is very aware of the discrepancies in their financial circumstances, so when his friend Isaac the tailor, wants to hire him to discover who is targeting the Jewish community and robbing them, he doesn't need much persuading.

He solves the problem very quickly, slightly to his annoyance because he has been enjoying the extra money. Then the burglar and his fence are murdered, as is the Jewish girl who was melting down the stolen gold and resetting the jewels.

At this point the book, which I had been assuming would be another Brodie against the villains crime novel, changes character and becomes something quite different. The aftermath of the war, war crimes, retribution and politics take over the plot and simple issues of good and evil and personal happiness are overtaken by far deeper concerns. I am not going to say anymore about the plot because it would remove the impact of what happens. I hope I haven't said too much already.

We get to know Brodie better in this book. Is he a sympathetic hero? For the most part yes, but he can be exasperating - sometimes irresolute, sometimes reacting too fast and without sufficient thought. In the earlier books we went along with him because he was the hero. In this book he is, rather, the protagonist, and there is room for criticism of him and his actions and, also, later, for a greater understanding.

Does the book work? Yes, it does. Most of it rings horribly true. There are one or two minor anachronisms, but they are easily forgotten. It is an exciting, nail-biting thriller whose outcome is never sure. It immerses the reader in the cold, cold winter of 1946/47 and the even colder maelstrom of the post war world where you could not trust anyone. It is both a thriller and a much more serious book, far weightier than the first two, although, in retrospect, you can see where they were leading.

- Thoroughly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was chided recently by another reviewer for giving a book not such a good review based, he said, on the fact I'd read only one book in the series. Well, this is my first Gordon Ferris book and it's a belter. I won't read the earlier books but I most certainly will be looking for the next one.

Douglas Brodie is a likeable enough chap, emotionally beseiged by the trials of Nazi war criminals immediately after the last War. The story begins with some jewellery thefts from Jewish houses in Glasgow in 1946, leading to a further trip to Hamburg where yet another series of trials was taking place.

On this occasion, he goes with the express intent of trying to discover information which will give him answers to the whereabouts of Nazi war criminals trying to get to South America via Scotland. These characters are holed up in Glasgow awaiting onward transportation through the 'Rat Lines' set up, in many cases, to help give safety to escaping civilians from the devastation that was Europe but now used by the escaping Nazis. It is somewhat galling to learn that the Vatican was instrumental in, shall we say, condoning all this if not even helping, though thankfully, not the clergy in Scotland.

It's a tough book in that the horrors committed by a supposedly civilised society are brought to the forefront, not gratuitously but rather as explanation as to why the Jews in Glasgow needed to catch the men and women who had watched over the prisoners whilst these horrendous crimes took place. Brodie is on hand to help.

The author pins most of the action during one of the worst winters on record. 1947 was difficult, to say the least. As if the weather was not harsh enough, rationing was still firmly in place, fuel and food in very short supply. He manages to convey these restraints without going overboard but they all add to the atmosphere of the story; it's not hard to imagine what it was like at that time. Actually, I do remember but only vaguely!!

Ferris has some great characters on board. Brodie, of course but ably held together by his landlady/girlfriend/criminal lawyer, Sam, his police inspector friend, Duncan Todd and another ex-SOE agent, Danny McRae. I gather he's been around before but he adds colour and instinctive action to an already boiling pot.

I enjoyed reading this book and am delighted to add this author to my 'must haves' for the future. I'll try to hone up on my Glaswegian as it was hard work (and I thought a little over the top) so what non-English people make of it will be interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a very good crime novel, the third in the Douglas Brodie series. I enjoyed Bitter Water, but I think this is better; Gordon Ferris seems to be hitting his stride and I think this series may well develop into something quite special. Here, ex-policeman Brodie is still working as a reporter and gets drawn into a sinister murder investigation involving the Jewish community in post-war Glasgow. Events lead to Nazis, the Holocaust and the camps and trials in Germany. It is a well-told and involving story with genuine emotional impact in places.

I always approach books which have a Holocaust theme with a degree of scepticism. It has direct and immediate personal relevance for me and I have seen it too often used to lend a spurious gravitas to undistinguished work. I needn't have worried here because Ferris avoids this well. The Holocaust and its aftermath is a perfectly legitimate subject for a novel set in 1946 and he stays well this side of the line between exposition and exploitation. As a result, I found the book emotionally powerful in places as well as being a good story. It is well told in literate, readable prose and the period and atmosphere of a freezing winter are well done. The odd very non-1946 phrase like "in the loop" does creep in, but rarely enough not to spoil the book in any way.

I found this an engrossing and exciting read with some genuinely important content, too. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a follow on from 'Bitter Water' with Douglas Brodie as a retired policeman now working for a daily newspaper. Set in Glasgow in 1947 when Britain had one of the worst winters on living memory, lasting for many many weeks with lots of snow etc. While in the Army at the end of the war he worked helping to prosecute the leaders of the 3rd Reich, many of whom were hanged. The story revolves around the possibility of a Rat line sending these war criminals to safety thru Glasgow/Scotland. From the first few pages the intrigue starts and never let up till the very last few pages of the story, To my sense it had an element of the 39 steps within the feel of the plot. also makes us aware of the Jewish community within the country as well, some here to avoid the Reich and others established for many years. There is in the first quarter of the book quite a lot of the local dialect and sayings which might puzzle some, but don't be put off with this as that becomes less as you progress. I'm from that Area and it fitted in with what would be correct as I use them still. This is a well crafted book with the story on many levels, using history as a back ground brings home the fact that living after the war with the shortages in food and heat etc were part of normal life.
I can't help recommending it highly enough as a good story, well researched, well told, well paced and Just a good read.
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