Monday, July 17, 2006

Mini-Review – “The Bormann Testament” by Jack Higgins

Regular readers of The White Rhino Report will recognize the fact that I have become a big fan of Jack Higgins’s page-turners of spy craft and adventure. In the past few months, I have offered brief reviews of several of his books, including “Dark Justice,” “The Wrath of God” and “Without Mercy.”

“The Borman Testament” offers an interesting backstory. During the Cold War, Higgins served in Berlin as a member of the Royal Horse Guards. In addition, an uncle of his had been held by the Nazis as a prisoner of war. Higgins developed a fascination with the Third Reich, and particularly with Hitler’s right-hand man, Martin Bormann. Out of that fascination, “The Bormann Testament” was created in 1962. At that politically charged time, Higgins' publisher was reluctant to publish a fictional work about Bormann, so the character of Bormann was changed to an entirely made-up Nazi leader by the name of Schultz, and the novel was published under the title, “The Testament of Caspar Schultz.”

Times have changed, the Berlin wall has fallen and Higgins felt it was time to republish this work in its original form. The action and plot of the book center around the premise and rumor that Bormann escaped from Hitler’s bunker during the final days of the war, and has been living in hiding ever since. Word comes to a British publisher that Bormann has written his “Testament,” naming names of Nazi collaborators, and is looking for someone to buy the manuscript through an intermediary by the name of Muller. Special agent Paul Chavasse is sent to Germany to find the manuscript, and to bring Bormann to justice – if the ex-Nazi is indeed still alive. Along the way, double agents, Israeli Nazi hunters, German police and neo-Nazi terrorists lead Chavasse and his colleagues on a merry chase. The stakes are high, since many influential business and government leaders fear that they may be named in the book as Nazi collaborators.

In his inimitable and straightforward way, Higgins dishes out death and double dealing at a double-time pace. After reading a Jack Higgins novel, I always feel as if I have completed a mad dash through the pages of the story, since I find it hard to put the book down until the last loose end in the plot has been tied up.

“The Bormann Testament” is not only a good novel; it is also a helpful reminder of the forces of human nature that made the Third Reich and the Cold War such perilous times. It is a quick and worthwhile read.



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