Five words from the blurb: mission, assassinate, Nazi, novelist, truth
There has been a lot of hype surrounding this book, but it is all justified. HHhH breaks the mould, creating a new genre that will change the way you look at non-fiction and lead you to question the accuracy of everything you read.
The book tells the compelling story of two Czechoslovakian parachutists who were sent to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the chief of the Nazi secret services. Dropped near Prague in 1942 the pair spend months plotting the event, relying on the support of a secret network of people. The book also charts the rise of Heydrich, explaining the important role he had in the creation of the Nazi death camps.
Throughout the book the author explains the research he did to obtain each fact and ensures that nothing is ambiguous. To retain the gripping narrative style Binet frequently makes things up, but every time he does so the passage will be followed by one that explains exactly which parts were fabricated:
I loved this honesty and it made me realise how many difficult choices authors of historical fiction must make each time they write a scene.
I love meta-fiction and so appreciated the way the author addressed the reader directly. His chatty style was easy to read and often amusing. He made some blunt, often scathing, comments about other historical fiction authors, but although I didn’t always agree with him, it was refreshing to read about someone not scared to voice their opinion.
I’ve seen a few comments about people avoiding this book because of the Holocaust connections, but although the death camps were mentioned, this book does not describe them in graphic detail. It isn’t a depressing book; it is a gripping story revolving around whether or not the parachutists will be successful in their mission. It does take a while for the pace to build, but the final few chapters were some of the most exciting I’ve ever read. I couldn’t put it down and was totally engrossed in the story of these men.
HHhH shares many themes with The Street Sweeper, but unlike that amazing book, this is flawless. HHhH has leaped over The Street Sweeper to become my favourite read of 2012 so far.
The thoughts of other bloggers:
I kept finding myself frustrated. Just when a section of non-fiction was beginning to really grip an authorial intervention would break the spell. Just William’s Luck
The style is an unusual construction, but for me it was highly effective and extremely engaging. The Little Reader Library
I remain, however, equally fascinated and irritated by this volume – I still can’t call it a novel. Gaskella