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      BEN PASTOR: The Night Of            SHOOTING STARS.       

BITTER LEMON PRESS

£8.99

20 August 2020

          

‘The Night Of Shooting Stars’ is the fifth adventure for Lieutenant Colonel Martin Bora.  His aggregated adventures now constitute an epic tale of intrigue and survival.  Gloomy Martin Bora has become to the Second World War what George Smiley is to the subsequent Cold War.  These two complex heroes are literary equivalents.  Readers of both series of novels will know that nothing succeeds like an intrepid conscience in a patient heart, which is why readers remain loyal to these two men. The conscience of Bora remains burdened by the chaos and moral failure that surround him.  His intellect, though, remains as sharp as ever.   In the latest mystery from author Ben Pastor his classical pessimist detective has to solve the murder of a clairvoyant whilst avoid being implicated in an attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The two events, of course, are connected, and as always Martin Bora is without allies that he can trust.  Ambition of others haunts all in ‘The Night Of Shooting Stars’.  The title of the book is both good and apt.

‘The Night Of Shooting Stars’ is historical fiction, and now there are five books in the series, the books themselves add to the history being described.   History operates on three levels within ‘The Night Of Shooting Stars.’   These are the history of the war, the history of the murder being investigated and the troubled memories of Martin Bora.  ‘The Night Of Shooting Stars’ provides a lot of information to absorb but a slow measured reading does reward readers.  ‘The Night Of Shooting Stars’ and the other books in the Bora series will appeal to fans of John Le Carre. For those who have been paying attention and have let their imaginations be primed, the ending of ‘The Night Of  Shooting Stars’ will leave them both satisfied and with possibilities to ponder.

A key strength of the book is the evocative and believable description of war torn Berlin.  With impressive topographic detail the author Ben Pastor maps out how the city was during the Second World War.  It confirms the historical discipline and the extensive research of the author and also supplements the three main historical elements within the novel.

An army relies on bureaucratic accountability but bureaucracy invites corruption, and it is in this world that Bora is obliged to operate. He not only has to confront the murderer of the clairvoyant but Claus von Stauffenberg, the man plotting to kill Hitler.   The thin line Bora walks helps him to survive but his balance also feels, as it does with George Smiley, like a reward for his gloomy nature.  The death of a fashionable clairvoyant has a bohemian ingredient that spices up a tale shaped by the final days of Nazi Germany and military conspiracies.  The reference and homage to Agatha Christie that appear late in the novel are a surprise but they somehow work.  The notion that Bora reads Agatha Christie is charming and confirmation that the man is full of surprises.

  

By Howard Jackson