The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler-Olsen

March 13th, 2015 kimbacaffeinate Review 43 Comments

13th Mar
The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler-Olsen
The Alphabet House
by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Published by: Penguin
Narrator: Graeme Malcom
Length: 15 hrs and 37 mins
Genres: Crime, Historical Fiction, Suspense thriller
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Audible
Goodreads
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

In the tradition of Alan Furst, the #1 international bestselling author delivers his first stand-alone novel, a psychological thriller set in World War II Nazi Germany and 1970s England - British pilots James Teasdale and Bryan Young have been chosen to conduct a special photo-reconnaissance mission near Dresden, Germany. Intelligence believes the Nazis are building new factories that could turn the tide of the war. When their plane is shot down, James and Bryan know they will be executed if captured. With an enemy patrol in pursuit, they manage to jump aboard a train reserved for senior SS soldiers wounded on the eastern front.
In a moment of desperation, they throw two patients off the train and take their places, hoping they can escape later. But their act is too convincing and they end up in the Alphabet House, a mental hospital located far behind enemy lines, where German doctors subject their patients to daily rounds of shock treatments and experimental drugs. The pilots’ only hope of survival is to fake insanity until the war ends, but their friendship and courage are put to the ultimate test when James and Bryan realize they aren’t the only ones in the Alphabet House feigning madness. Millions of fans around the world—and in this country—know Adler-Olsen for his award-winning Department Q series. His first stand-alone, The Alphabet House, is the perfect introduction for those who have yet to discover his riveting work.

I am always drawn to tales set during World War II and could not help picking up The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler-Olsen. Alphabet House is a psychological thriller about two British pilots who find themselves behind enemy lines. Their journey to survive finds them being admitted as patients in the Alphabet House, an asylum for Nazi officers. Adler-Olsen takes us on their harrowing journey during the war and after.

The Alphabet House is not a novel or audio you will consume in a single sitting. Froth with danger and unimaginable decisions the first half of the novel deals with events during the war and their stay at the Alphabet House. The second half begins almost thirty years and shares the consequences those years had on these men.

The characters Bryan and James are beautifully developed and Adler-Olsen brings their thoughts and emotions to life in a very realistic way. As I read, I feared for them, shrieked in horror and wondered what I would have done in their shoes. Secondary characters aided the stories and the villains gave me nightmares.

The tale is part thriller, part suspense but for the most part it is each man’s perspective into his actions and the consequences. War is ugly, survival is not glamours especially wrapped in the ugliness of such an atrocious war. If you are a World War II buff and curious about what occurred in these German hospitals, you will both appreciate and cringe at detail Adler-Olsen delivered with this novel. Next, you will look at the author and wonder from what depths of the psyche his tale sprouted.

The pacing of the tale changes throughout the book and I times I listened or read for a few hours. During other parts, I would read a chapter or two and set it down. Yet, even as I read other books or did other activities James and Bryan where never far from my thoughts.

I received both an audio and finished copy of the Alphabet House and bounced back and forth between them. At times, I read a long as I listened. Both formats are wonderful. Graeme Malcom was the narrator and he did an excellent job with the voices and enhanced the atmospheric tones.

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About Jussi Adler-Olsen

Author Jussi Adler-Olsen (b. 1950) began in the 1990s to write novels after having followed a comprehensive career as publisher, editor, film composer for the Valhalla-cartoon and as bookseller.
He made his debut with the thriller “Alfabethuset” (1997), which reached bestseller status both in Denmark and internationally just like his subsequent novels “And She Thanked the Gods” (prev. “The Company Basher”) (2003) and “The Washington Decree” (2006). The first book on Department Q is “Kvinden I buret” (2007) and the second “Fasandræberne” (2008). The main detective is Deputy Superintendent Carl Morck from the Department Q and he is also the star of the third volume, “Flaskepost fra P” which was released in the fall of 2009 and secured Adler-Olsen ”Readers’ Book Award” from Berlingske Tidende-readers, the Harald Mogensen Prize as well as the Scandinavian Crime Society’s most prestigious price ”Glass Key”. The fourth volume in the Department Q series, “Journal 64” was published in 2010 and he was awarded the once-in-a-lifetime-prize of “The Golden Laurels” for this in 2011”. In December 2012 the fifth novel was published, “Marco Effekten”. Furthermore, Jussi Adler-Olsen was awarded “Favourite Author of the Danes” in 2011, 2012 and 2013 leading the organization behind to change the set-up, so the winner cannot be chosen more than once in a three year period.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She's a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat... Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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43 Responses to “The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler-Olsen”

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am glad to see you needed time in between reading this. It was wonderfully done

    • kimbacaffeinate

      This was really interesting and a look into the characters as much as the era

    • kimbacaffeinate

      War is dark, but it is more about the men themselves and it was just fascinating Lauren

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I always have at least one book and one audio going at the same time..and yes I will read almost anything in the fictional genres.

  1. Sarah

    This sounds like a fantastic thriller! I have read a few holocust themed thrillers and boy do they give me nightmares. Hard to imagine such atrocious experiments actually took place in the not so far away past.. *shudder* Not sure I could read this but I have a friend who digs physiological thrillers and would love to read it. Great review! 🙂
    Sarah recently posted…Excerpt + Giveaway | Summer ConfessionsMy Profile

  2. Melissa (Books and Things)

    I have wanted to try that… read and listen to a book at different places in the book. I haven’t done that yet. I think that in a way this would almost be too much for me but on the other hand, I do love it when a book opens us up to what is important to think about during different historical periods. Hm… will have to think on this.
    Melissa (Books and Things) recently posted…Audiobook Review: Magic Slays by Ilona AndrewsMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I love books that make me think and feel too Melissa, and gives us a look into the past

  3. Lorna

    I have read books from this time period but really try to steer clear of ones that take place in Germany.I couldn’t watch Schindlers List for this reason. I am a wimp when it comes to that. Recently I read The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah and loved it so much. It takes place in France during WWII and is about when the Germans occupied France. She’s a favorite author of mine and I read it for review, but normally I wouldn’t have read this one either. And I would have missed out on a great read. If you haven’t read this, you should! Do I sound like a commercial? lol Glad you loved this one 🙂
    Lorna recently posted…Review: Strange Magic Part Two by Michelle MankinMy Profile

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