Early in his long career as a radio and television journalist in St. Louis, Don Marsh became involved as a reporter in what was then West Germany with the AFN, the armed forces network .
The AFN gave GIs stationed in Germany an electronic taste of home. The AFN gave Marsh a taste of real life in 1960s Germany – a taste he puts to the test in his latest thriller, ‘The Shadows Know’.
The hero is Hank Tollar, a pencil-and-notepad reporter for the Stars and Stripes, the overseas GI daily. In a convoluted plot, Tollar finds himself in the middle of a violent campaign by French terrorists in Germany to oust Charles de Gaulle and return Algeria to French rule.
Marsh’s wildly improbable plot spans Germany and France, then ends with a fight in Vietnam after a brief stop in Baltimore. Readers will find themselves entangled in a side plot involving the hero Tollar’s relationship with a surprisingly attractive German-Czech woman who has her own secrets.
Still, give Marsh credit for his outlook on life in a West Germany with too many bad memories. As a German photographer told newcomer Tollar: “As you get to know more and more people, you won’t find anyone who admits to Nazi connections…family…friends. They don’t even admit to having fought the Allies. Everyone I talk to fought the Russians on the Eastern Front. I guarantee you that the people of the East say they fought against the Allies.
But grammar purists will sigh at Marsh’s too many missing punctuation marks – misplaced commas and question marks, sometimes making sense with them.
For example, this surprisingly attractive woman at one point asks a Tollar colleague, “Why couldn’t you shut up?” He’s a journalist for God’s sake.
Eh? We thought he was a reporter for the Stars and Stripes.
Manchester’s Harry Levins retired in 2007 as the Post-Dispatch’s senior editor. In 1964-65 he was an infantry lieutenant stationed in West Germany.
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