Thanks to crimeficreader who drew my attention to the very strong shortlist of contenders for the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award 2008.
I have only read two of the six shortlisted books but the others must be very good to have eliminated from contention A Vengeful Longing by Roger Morris which I reviewed here.
The shortlisted authors includes three past winners of the Ellis Peters:
Andrew Taylor, a previous winner on two occasions, nominated for Bleeding Heart Square.
C.J.Sansom, nominated for Revelation, and last year's winner, Ariana Franklin for The Death Maze [The Serpent's Tale in the USA] which I reviewed here. The other books are Stratton's War by Laura Wilson, Death on a Branch Line by Andrew Martin, and A Quiet Flame the fifth book in the Bernie Gunther series by Philip Kerr. You can read my review of that book here. That review did produce a very pleasing positive reaction from Maxine of Petrona, and the book was also very highly praised by Mike Ripley.
What interested me particularly was that three of the shortlist, A Quiet Flame, Bleeding Heart Square and Stratton's War concern the period 1930-1950 and the rise and fall of fascism.
My own recent review of Philip Kerr's March Violets was mentioned on author Michael Walter's blog because it 'not only tells you everything you need to know about the book but links it pertinently to the current Austrian elections.' Unfortunately the predictions concerning those elections were accurate and the extreme right BZO [Alliance for Austria's Future] and FPO [Austrian Freedom Party] made big gains. In the last few days it has been brought to public attention that some bizarre initiation ceremonies have taken place during freshers week at the University of Gloucester. These involved new students with plastic bags over their heads being marched around and shouted at by a pathetic bully wearing a Nazi uniform and swastika armband. [see photo]
What a failure of our educational system that some fools think this is an amusing way to behave.
That is why I am pleased that historical crime fiction is addressing real problems that affect us today as we enter a period of economic depression.
Particularly for the German occupiers stationed in the conquered lands of eastern Europe-literally tens of thousands of men from all walks of life- the mass-murder policies of the regime were not aberrational or exceptional events that scarcely ruffled the surface of everyday life.
Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland:
Christopher R. Browning, Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it: George Santayana