Set in 1964 Berlin in an alternative future where Germany won the second world war Fatherland follows the story of Xavier March, a former U-boat captain and now policeman, as he investigates a body washed up on the edge of a lake. The story takes several twists and turns that keep the reader guessing right to the end while fully explaining the realities of this alternative reality. The characters and setting are well conceived and it clear that a significant amount of historical research has gone into creating this work of fiction. The ending left me both satisfied and frustrated as I had become quite attached to the character and would relish reading further of his exploits.
I am always slightly dubious of a book that has ‘The number 1 bestseller’ emblazoned across the top but in the case of Fatherland I have to say that all doubts were dispelled within the first 20 pages. Robert Harris‘ 1992 publication deserves the title of a modern classic and ticks all the boxes as a murder mystery, science fiction and historical novel.