||A Review of: Secret Father
by Des McNally
This is an elegant novel, the first paragraph of which had this
reader eagerly anticipating a narrative that would draw me into the
author's near scholarly approach to fiction.
The story is set mostly in Berlin, just prior to the construction
of the infamous Wall. We are quickly introduced to Paul Montgomery,
a successful international banker and true American capitalist,
benefiting from the reconstruction of post World War II Germany.
Living with him in Frankfurt, following the tragic death of his
disturbed mother, is Michael, his seventeen-year-old Polio-stricken
son. Michael attends an American High School in Wiesbaden.
Attempting to put some space between himself and his controlling
father, Michael begins associating with Ulrich (Rick) Healy, a
self-styled Neo Marxist. Rick, the son of a German woman, Charlotte,
and an adoptive American, General David Healy, challenges his
girlfriend Katherine (Kit) Carson and Michael to attend a May Day
rally in Soviet-occupied East Berlin.
At this point in the story, what began as three maturing teenagers'
efforts to establish their independence, turns into a fascinating
adventure in which espionage, love and the nurturing of relationships
are the key ingredients. The three are detained by the notorious
Stasi, East Germany's Secret Police, on fabricated charges. The
Stasi are aware that Rick's father heads America's intelligence
community in Germany and are prepared to exploit this fact to their
advantage. Fearing an international incident, as well as being
terrified for their children, Paul and Charlotte join forces and
pursue their offspring to East Berlin in an attempt to rescue them.
What transpires is exciting drama in which Carroll delves deep into
human weaknesses, and relationships between peers and between parents
and their children. The situation is further complicated when Paul
and Charlotte become irresistibly drawn to one another.
The author approaches his story in an orderly fashion, yet so vivid
are his descriptions that we find ourselves surrounded by sound and
movement which effectively evoke the particularly sad plight of the
impoverished East German people. Carroll's style thankfully presents
his readers with challenges; he writes with an adroitness that
seamlessly changes the novel's mood from euphoria to tragedy,
nostalgia to suspence. The political element always pervades Carroll's
narrative and this novel debates the role that both the U.S.A. and
the Soviets played in creating the Cold War with all of its
consequences. The actual reasons for the dismantling of the Berlin
Wall as well as current American foreign policies are convincingly
treated in this thoughtful novel.
For those readers who were enthralled by Le Carr's The Spy Who Came
In From The Cold and who have yearned for more political thrillers
in the same vein-enjoy! Enjoy the tension, passion, the excitement
and Carroll's generous treatment of his characters in this most