Gerald Seymour is the smartest writer of international thrillers in the business. His books might not have all the literary trappings of a le Carrй or the pretensions noir of a Deighton, but they are much more real and immediate. They read like stories ripped from foreign newspapers and fleshed out by a reporter with brains and a heart.
Dead Ground begins with a frightening incident at a British military base, when a female corporal savagely attacks a visiting German dignitary and accuses him of murdering her East German lover nine years before. The German, Dieter Krause, a former officer of the notoriously evil East German intelligence service called the Stasi, is close to the new chief of the Russian Army. Any scandal surrounding the two men could endanger relations among Russia, England, and America. The new, united Germany very much wants the whole incident to go away. As a marvelously pragmatic British agent named Perkins sums it up:
They're the power and the glory. We bend the knee to them. We grovel rather than offend 'greater' Germany. We slobber at the ankles of their chancellor, their Central Bank, their foreign ministry, their industrialists....
But the enraged British corporal, Tracy Barnes, doesn't know how to grovel. She heads off to the former East Germany to find evidence of Krause's crimes, trailed by a legal clerk named Josh Mantle who specializes in lost causes. They find a country still living through its own version of the cold war, a place where victims of Stasi brutality are afraid to rake over the ashes of the past. In scene after harrowing scene, Barnes and Mantle encounter the walking dead, people whose lives have not been improved by being part of a new Germany.
With Dead Ground, Gerald Seymour has found an innovative way to resurface the resentments and atrocities of the cold war. --Dick Adler