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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Thriller coursing through history, 16 May 2014
This review is from: The Devil's Playground (Paperback)
The Devil’s Playground – It Really Is!

The Devil’s Playground was Stav Sherez first novel originally published back in 2004 this paperback edition is from 2014. Having read this book and enjoyed it, it is very easy to understand why this book was shortlisted for a CWA Award personally I would have awarded it! Set in Amsterdam this book as a thriller not only examines the dark underbelly of this city where anything and everything is available for a price it also examines one of the darkest periods in recent European history the Holocaust.

This book also is able to question how much we really know about ourselves and how deeply we look back at our own families and cities. As a historian I often point out the Germans alone did not march Jews to the cattle trucks they had local help. Yes that means you France and you Netherlands large numbers of Jews were sent east with your citizens help. It also makes us examine what happened at the end of the war when some Germans and Ukrainians took on others identities to escape the allies and live out their days.

A body turns up dead in a park in Amsterdam and he has a book belonging to Londoner Jon Reed in his pocket along with his telephone number. Detective Van Hijn asks him to come and identify the body of Jake Colby who may have been part of serial killers known kills. He had taken Jake in as a house guest after taking pity on him and found that they were both Jews who knew little or next to nothing about their Jewishness. Jake went to Amsterdam to find out more and it is in that search that kills Jake and draws Jon in to an investigation that could end in his own death or that of those around him.

As he digs deeper he finds that the mystery is about 49 reels of film from Auschwitz that are up for auction and the hunt is on to find them. These reels are wanted by all sections but those that want them the most seem willing to kill to get them. With the help of his American girlfriend Suze he is able to uncover the truth about what has been going on, will it be enough to keep him and Suze alive is a different matter.

For a debut novel this thriller packs a punch and has a terrific pace about it there are no wasted sentences or descriptions. This is a wonderfully structured novel that has been well researched, written with understanding some reverence and not afraid to deliver the knock out blows when required. A great deal of intelligence and care has been taken and the clear prose used makes it a delight to read. This is a powerful novel worth every minute you spend reading and it is almost a shame to finish it. Worth the time worth the money and leaves you wanting to read more from Stav Sherez.
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