Look Long Into the Abyss by A.R. Homer

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MWSA Review

Look Long into the Abyss by A.R. Homer is a gripping novel set as Nazi Germany disintegrates at the end of World War II in Europe. The book is an Odyssey-like story of a quest to arrive at Alt Aussee, where Hitler intends to make the last stand of the Third Reich; and where, in a salt mine, are stored thousands of stolen art masterpieces that represent Hitler’s private collection.

Heading for Alt Aussee SS Brigadefuhrer Reinhard Hofmann, who has been personally ordered by Hitler to establish the final fortress of Nazi Germany. Failing that, he has been ordered to destroy the entire collection of masterpieces to keep them from falling into allied hands. Also racing for Alt Aussee are Americans Lt.Gina Cortazzo and Sgt. Bill Terrill, closely trailing the allied forces as they crush the remaining Nazi resistance.  Hofmann is driven by fanaticism for the Nazi cause, Gina is driven by idealism to save the art, and the war weary Bill only wants to see the war end so he can go home.

Also in the mix of this finely crafted novel are Frieda, the mother of a young daughter and a son, Wolfgang, who has gone over to the Hitler Youth and is now racing toward Alt Aussee with Hofmann. The family harbors a secret related to the death of Frieda’s husband, deadly to both Frieda and Wolfgang. Add in the mix Stanislaus, a Polish forced labor slave with a priceless piece of art in his possession, who joins forces with Frieda; and Father Hieronymus, an abbot whose monastery exists only at the indulgence of the local Gestapo, and harbors dangerous secrets.  

The lives of these characters intersect and interact in the dangerous environment of Nazi Germany collapsing. The characters are vividly drawn, the book is historically accurate, and the climax is breathtaking.  It is a novel that is impossible to put down as it speeds toward the denouement. This book is highly recommended to anyone interested in military and in particular World War II novels.

Reviewed by: Weymouth Symmes (2011)


Author's Synopsis

The Third Reich is collapsing.  The rules have changed.
There are no rules.
 
Nazi Germany, 1945. Hitler Youth on suicide missions…old men hanged for desertion …marauding slave laborers…homeless Germans clogging roads…and looted art hidden all over.

As Hitler’s Germany thrashes in its death throes, Lt. Gina Cortazzo follows close behind the American front to rescue art stolen by the Nazis.  Her success awaits the capture of Alt Aussee, the salt mine where the thousands of stolen masterpieces in Hitler’s private collection are hidden.

But SS Brigadeführer Reinhard Hofmann is also heading there with his crack forces, on his way to establish a final fortress where Nazism can hold out.  And he is ready to carry out the Führer’s final order: destroy the entire collection, should it be in danger of falling into enemy hands.

Look Long into the Abyss paints a chilling and vivid picture of the last days of World War II.  The cast of characters includes Sgt. Bill Terrill, who saves Gina’s life as they cross paths with suicidal Hitlerjugend; Frieda, the mother of a Hitler Youth fighting with Hofmann; Stanislaus, the Polish slave laborer with whom Frieda and her daughter form an unlikely alliance; and Father Hieronymus, the abbot whose monastery harbors more than one dangerous secret.

Throughout the chaos, Raphael’s Portrait of a Young Man weaves a spell. Thieved from thieves, lost then found, the priceless work alters the lives of Frieda, Stanislaus, and Gina…and others caught in the maelstrom.