Friday, June 6, 2014

eBook Review: The Angel of Zin

Clifford IrvingThe Angel of Zin

  • Product Details

    • File Size: 894 KB
    • Print Length: 304 pages
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B00J273UY0
    • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    • Lending: Enabled
    Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars (65 customer reviews)
    • Price: $5.99 (I bought it on sale for $0.99. 

1. Short review:     (Amazon rating: 3 out of 5 stars -- It's okay.)

2. Long review:
2.1. What I liked: I like the hero, Paul Bach.
Roller-coaster or walk-in-the-park? A depressing roller-coaster.
For what I paid, it returned satisfactory value. At $5.99, I think it is overpriced.

2.2. What I did not like: Three things:
1. After I finished the book, I still did not know who the Angel of Zin was;
2. Every character I cared about died (I am beginning to hate Game of Thrones for this);
3. Two glaring factual errors -- Irving does not know spit about weapons -- or research, evidently.

2.3. Who I think is the audience: Germans who read English. Which is most of 'em.

2.4. Is the book appropriate for children to read?  No.

2.5. On the basis of reading this book, will I buy the author's next book? No.

2.6. The plot in a nutshell:
     Paul Bach is a Nazi. He does not want to be a Nazi. He is also a member of the Gestapo. He does not want to be that, either. His friend persuaded him to join both to get promoted within the Berlin police department. Paul lost his left arm fighting in Russia, and my guess is he did not want that either.
     Paul is a detective with the Berlin police. His sense of justice is blind to race and political affiliation. Which is why his friend is a colonel and Paul is still a captain.
     Paul is tasked with investigating a series of murders in a small extermination camp in Poland: Zinoswicz-Zdroj, called Zin for short. Paul travels to Zin and finds corruption and cruelty. (Not a surprise. This is an extermination camp.)
     I shall wrap this up for you. Paul interrogates the camp commandant and the German guards -- but not the Ukrainian guards. He interrogates some of the prisoners. Meanwhile, the Jews are 1) preparing for Passover and 2) preparing to rise up and escape. The commandant gets orders to close the camp; that means he is to kill all the remaining prisoners. Paul offers one prisoner a chance to escape, but the prisoner does not take it. Paul solves the murders but, to the commandant, identifies a dead man as the murderer instead of the true murderer. (I am not clear on who the murderer(s) actually was(were). Nor how the clues led to Paul's deduction.) Jews learn the camp will close in a week and advance the schedule for the uprising. Of course, the uprising goes off with the precision of a clock exploding. Dead guards. Dead commandant. Dead Paul Bach. Dead Jews. 37 of 500 escape to the woods outside Zin. Yeah, now what?
     And that's how it ends. 
 2.7. Other:
     The Angel of Zin reminded me of a German Hörspiel I read years ago. In the Hörspiel (whose title I cannot recall), a German soldier returned to Berlin. He was a thousand mile soldier: marched a thousand miles into Russia and a thousand miles out. Nobody cared about his service to the fatherland. They want to forget the war. He was rejected for jobs, for housing, for a seat in a restaurant. He tried to drown himself in the River Spree, but the river spat him out. No redemption, no happy ending. A depressing read.
     The Angel of Zin is like that.
     It started with a depressing tone and it kept it through to the end. I hoped for a redemptive ending. I hoped in vain.
     If you have ever been treated for clinical depression, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK.

     I am not an expert on firearms, but even I know more than Clifford Irving.
     Two items:
     1. At one point, CI wrote that a character picked up a thirty-eight caliber Luger. This error is both stupid and lazy. The Germans used the metric system. They manufactured nine millimeter Lugers. Never thirty-eight caliber. Look, I know CI did not have the internet when he wrote this book, but for the love of God, would it have killed him to pick up a phone and call a gun shop and ask someone?
     2. When the Jews rose up for freedom, one climbed into the guard tower and fired the fifty caliber machine gun sited there. Again, this error is both stupid and lazy. Americans used the fifty. The closest the Germans had to it was a twenty millimeter autocannon. The automatic weapon the Gemans would have used was the Maschinengewehr (MG) 42, a 7.92x57mm machine gun. Maybe a MG 34 if they were still using old equipment. (The MG42 replaced the MG34 in 1942.)


2.8. Links: Clifford Irving

2.9. Buy the book:  The Angel of Zin


  1. Clifford Irving is well known by people my age as being sent to prison for writing a Hoax;:THE FAKE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF HOWARD HUGHES!

    Dan Kurt

  2. So, I don't need to be depressed, so I will take the poster's point and not check the book out at my library. However, I think the information above clearly identifies the angel of Zin.