The Austrian

Book Two

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
304 Pages
Reviewed on 06/18/2016
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

The Austrian: Book Two by Ellie Midwood is the continuation of Ernst’s story. It would have been ideal to read the first novel in the series before I jumped into the second one, but I could not help myself. Everything about this novel called to me, from the cover to the blurb to the characters and the promise of something great just made me read it. And I am very happy I did. The story follows Ernst, a war criminal as the cover promises. The book opens with the bang and our protagonist realizes what a mess he has created. That was just simply amazingly human about Ernst and earned him major brownie points from me.

Ernst is a general in the SS, or was, and he is waiting for his life to end, as it should. The story switches between times when he does not really know if he is doing the right thing and when he is in Nuremberg. The novel simply shows us how a good man can be ruined by a flawed leader and ideals. His love for a Jewish woman and his friendship with Otto made him human. The reader knows how his story will end, but it is fascinating to read how an SS general with a conscience would have felt in that horrible time. I absolutely loved the scenes of Ernst with Annalise and Otto because they showed his human side and showed what he was capable of. This is a series that deserves more than 5 stars. Simply, brilliant.

John R McKay

After recently reading the excellent first book in this series, I was delighted to see that the next instalment of ‘The Austrian’ was available. Following on from where Part One finished, this unique take on the story of Nazi war criminal, Ernst Kaltenbrunner and his final days awaiting sentencing and punishment at the Nuremburg trials in 1946 is both thought provoking and historically insightful.
As the hangman’s noose gets ever closer, his mind wanders back to the war years and his rivalry with the head of the Gestapo and RHSA, Reinhard Heydrich. However, what dominates and haunts him are his memories of his romantic involvement with his married secretary, Annalise Friedmann. His infatuation with her is so strong that he overlooks that she is possibly Jewish and quite probably an enemy agent, preferring not to think about these possibilities. It seems she was the whole reason for his existence and he became almost indifferent and unconcerned about what was happening around him as the war was drawing to a close. As he is being brought to task about what he did during the war and his involvement with the SS and, consequently, the Holocaust, he accepts his fate and puts up little by way of defence. His only regret seems to be that he will never see his son, his conscience clear in his own mind that he had little involvement in what his subordinates and Nazi masters were doing. It is a weak argument and, in real life, Kaltenbrunner was well aware of what took place.
This is a purely fictional account of a real life war criminal, told through his own eyes. It does not try to sympathise with him and at times shows him for the Nazi he was, trying to take what he wants without regard for others.
The disrupted chronology is seamlessly linked together and the expert writing style kept me turning the pages long into the night. This is another exceptional piece of work from Ellie MIdwood. She is proving to be an authority on her subject matter and this is another very well researched piece of literature from her.
For anyone interested in historical fiction, or just likes to read a good story, then I would highly recommend ‘The Austrian’ (both books).

Heidi Fischer

Having read ‘Emilia’ a little while ago, I was keen to read more Ellie Midwood – ‘The Austrian’ didn’t disappoint. It’s a compelling read that has been split into two works, although, in all honesty, I think it should have been presented as a single piece as neither book really hold its own as a distinct novel but together, it’s a fascinating read. The author alternates between time periods in the life of our protagonist, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, a factual character with a propensity to do as he pleases. Skilfully handled, this method works well, allowing the reader to easily transition between scenes with no confusion. Applying a fair degree of artistic licence, especially the ending, the author gives this Nazi SS-Obergruppenführer a conscience – a bold move that could have backfired but in my case, it didn’t. I felt neither sympathy, nor respect for this self-serving, self-pitying man, but I did come to understand some of the motivating factors that may have driven him to act as he did. The prose may not be perfect (and let’s face it, what publication is ever flawless) but it’s an entertaining read to the end so it’s 5 stars from me. If you’re into WW2 fiction that provides a Nazi-point-of-view, ‘The Austrian’ may be what you’re looking for.