The book centers on Meyer Landsman, a washed-up detective in the Sitka District, a refugee for European Jews from World War II. The Sitka District will soon be “reverting” to Alaskan rule, and much of the book is spent on the people and places affected by this change.
Meyer finds himself investigating the murder of a transient in the hotel he resides in, and stumbles upon a conspiracy that could change the face of the world…
Why is this on our bookshelf?
It’s amazing the way minor events can have major effects on the world…alternate history fiction gives us a peek into the world as it could have been.
I’ve always been something of a U.S. history buff, so this book is right up my alley.
Rating (3 stars)
In the book’s timeline, the Sitka District is a 1940’s creation of the U.S. Congress, as a result of the Slattery Report, which recommended the creation of the district to house Jews fleeing Europe.
In real life, the report was never considered by Congress, but in the book, an alternate timeline has unfolded due to the death of an influential congressperson, Anthony Dimon.
As for the book? In short, the conclusion is unsatisfying.
The storyline is original, and there’s a lot of thought put into what the world would look like if WWII had gone slightly differently— clearly a lot of research went into writing the book.
But in the end, events are wrapped up in a “We’ll see what happens…” kind of way and we’re left wondering what happened to two fairly major plotlines. In addition, there’s some heavy narrative to fill in the blanks that slows down the pace of the book and is kind of jarring.
Read this book:
if you like present-day alternate history but don’t mind the ending being incomplete.
Don't Read this book:
if you’re expecting firefights and dramatic confrontations.
Once you're done, do this:
Play a rousing game of Chrononauts and have fun playing with alternate timelines.