It is September 1943 during the Second World War and Italy is a divided country.

The North is still held by the Fascists whilst Sicily and the South have been liberated by the allies who are slowly gaining ground in the rest of Italy.

Against this backdrop of war Wehrmacht Major and aristocrat Martin Bora is diverted from his military duties to conduct an investigation into the murder of a prominent Fascist close to Verona. Reluctantly Bora agrees to take on the case which has the potential to embarrass the pro-Nazi regime. Bora joins forces with police inspector Sandro Guidi who is also on the trail of an elusive serial killer. Badly injured during an attack by local partisans Bora carries out his duties with a flinty resolve whilst also suffering severe physical pain.

However, whilst Bora appears to be the epitome of a committed German soldier his actions are being closely scrutinised by the SS. His opposition to their policies in Russia have alerted their suspicions to his real feelings about the Nazi party. When Bora is charged with overseeing the transportation of a group of Jews to the concentration camps they mysteriously escape during the journey. The SS are aware that this not the first time Bora has appeared to allow this to happen.

The clash between Bora’s duties and his conscience creates an interesting and unusual character study as he balances undeniable commitment and courage as a soldier with his own personal code of ethics. Liar Moon is an intelligent, thoughtful and imaginative tale that balances intimate characterisation with the wider backdrop of conflict and political intrigue. The second in the Martin Bora series it shares with its predecessor Lumen a bleak poetic vision combined with the unusual and thought provoking device of having a German Wehrmacht Major as its central protagonist and detective. Atmospheric, ambitious and cleverly plotted Liar Moon is an original and memorable crime thriller.

Liar Moon

Ben Pastor

Bitter Lemon Press, £8.99, 9781904738824

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