Alphabet House

Jussi Adler-Olsen

This psychological and suspenseful war thriller from Jussi Adler-Olsen (translated by Steve Schein) is a rich, detailed read that’s meticulous research adds not only authenticity but a harrowing, at times draining, element.

 

It’s about the will to survive. A haunting story of friendship, guilt, love, fear and redemption.

 

Two British pilots are flying over enemy Germany when they’re shot down. It’s 1944 and the second World War saw the territory rife with troops. The men crawl from the wreckage and try to escape but injury leaves them with little choice but to board a train packed with injured SS Officers on their return from battle. Hiding in plain sight by disguising themselves as German soldiers the pilots fake tattoos and feign unconsciousness, hiding for days in soiled, bloody beds, in a desperate attempt to survive.  As a result they find themselves taken to the mental hospital called Alphabet House. It’s a secure unit for soldiers damaged by war. The men are locked away and subjected to debilitating treatment they don’t need and experiments that are forced upon them. Despite stealing the identities of two ruthless SS men, the English pilots are subjected to this horrendous mental and physical torture. How will they escape?

 

In the second half (set in 1972) of this epic book the pace is upped. Post Alphabet House the action soon moves from England to Munich. It’s difficult to describe any aspect of the plot without revealing too much. Suffice to say, a search takes place that becomes a cat and mouse chase. The evil, sadistic, corrupt villains of the first half are benefiting from their actions and will kill to protect their secrets.

 

Old love, loyalty and friendships are tested and only one side can survive in this gripping tale that will have readers surviving on a diet of fingernails until the final page.

 

Jussi Adler-Olsen:

Jussi Adler-Olsen is one of the most successful and widely read authors to have come out of Denmark. His award-winning books have sold over 10 million copies across the world collectively. He is most famous for the Department Q series, made up of Mercy, Disgrace, Redemption and Guilt. 

Alphabet House is his first ever work of fiction. 

Germany, World War II. Two English pilots are shot down and crash land behind enemy lines. The area swarming with German troops, they have only minutes to crawl from the wreckage and make their escape. Boarding a train reserved for wounded SS men on the way home from the eastern front, they ditch their clothing and personal belongings and pose as German soldiers, hiding for days in soiled, bloody beds, feigning unconsciousness. But their act is too convincing and they find find themselves being transferred to Alphabet House, a mental hospital for those damaged by war. How will they escape? And for how long can you simulate insanity without going crazy for real? They are playing a dangerous game and it seems they might not be the only ones in Alphabet House hiding secrets...Alphabet House is a page-turning psychological thriller, containing the same panache and style fans will have come to know and love from Jussi-Adler Olsen's Department Q series and is a great introduction for those who are yet to discover this award-winning author.