‘The Odessa File’ is the best Frederick Forsyth book that I’ve read and published more than 40 years ago it is still a good read today, even though most people old enough to be actively involved in WWII would now be dead.
Peter Miller is a freelance journalist living in Hamburg. He was a child during the war, so even though his father was killed, he has not thought too much about the war or the plight of the Jews.
Then one night while ambulance chasing, he comes across an elderly Jewish man who has gassed himself. The policeman in attendance is a friend of Peter’s and gives Peter the old man’s diary. The contents of the diary completely alter the next few months of Peter’s life. The old man was held in a concentration camp in Riga. The SS Captain who ran the camp (known as the Butcher of Riga) escaped after the war. When the old Jewish man realises that Eduard Roschman will never be brought to justice he kills himself.
Peter sets out to track down and expose Roschman. This is an incredibly dangerous task as most senior SS survivors (and Roschman in particular) are protected by an organisation known as Odessa who helps them establish new identities and infiltrate organisations where they can work towards assuming the power that they believe that they deserve. It doesn’t take long before the Odessa are trying to stop Peter. But, he also has organisations trying to help him succeed.
The story is an excellent game of cat and mouse as Peter tries to find Roschman while trying to stay one step ahead of Odessa. Peter manages to stumble across a lot more than he is actually looking for. It isn’t till the end of the story that we discover Peter’s real reason for wanting Roschman exposed.
And underlying the whole story is the reactions (or lack of) of the German people.
This was an excellently written book with very realistic characters and a pretty realistic story. It is definitely my favourite Frederick Forsyth book and I prefer it to his more recent high action books.
Book Published 1972