The Crooked Cross

Written by Michael Dean
Review by Geoffrey Harfield

This is a masterly fiction of events and characters who, in 1933, hatch an elaborate plot to kill Hitler in Munich. The author has researched in detail the places, buildings, furniture, art galleries and events that might offer success. The cover, a Durer allegorical engraving of a crusader on horseback, and the title are too intellectual a face for an absorbing yet despicable history.

Though fascinating as a read, the book shows a sore lack of editing. Expressions such as “keeping tabs on” and “plasterboard” do not ring true for 1933. I was there! The profusion of characters and places, some with three names, at times hide the story. If the Nazi high-ups and locations are right, then the book is a staggering, if ponderous, piece of research. If they are not, there are far too many. This book seems so truthful yet it purports to be fiction. Michael Dean has done a brilliant job writing a “love it or hate it” book.

As Hitler inspects the Munich artists’ studios, the author displays sensitive understanding of the work of the period and the Nazi (i.e. Hitler’s) preferences. There is remarkable police prosecution detail of a terrifying period in German history when both Jews and Communists were persecuted, their property and art collections stolen, or bought for a pittance, and painters were either in or out. And out meant death.

I don’t need to tell you how the book ends.