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CBR4 #8: The Keep by F. Paul Wilson

I wanted to like this book a lot more than I actually did. The concept was interesting, some of the characters were really great. It just seemed like the author came up with a great concept and then kind of phoned it in for a while. The romantic part of the plot was not only distracting but kind of stupid. The fact that my favorite character in the whole thing was a German army commander doesn't really bode well, to be honest.

The basic plot begins when a German commander is ordered to move his troops to a fortified building that over looks a pass in Romania. The German high command is planning to move through the pass to the town of Ploiesti in order to both secure fuel supplies and set up a new "work camp", and they want to be sure they will have a clear path. The commander is uncomfortable with the order, uncomfortable with the direction things have been taking with regard to "work camps," and is frankly not feeling very optimistic about the building. The walls are covered with strange metalwork crosses, and the atmosphere is deeply creepy. And that's BEFORE his men start to be murdered in the night. He sends for help and a group of SS men (along with their arrogant leader) are sent to help out on their way to Ploiesti. The SS leader believes the local villagers are staging opposition. But then something happens to convince him, too, that things are not at all the way they should be.

The story continues on, gathering to the "keep" a disabled Romanian Jewish scholar and his beautiful daughter as well as a mysterious man with an even more mysterious mission. They end up having to defeat what might be the ultimate evil.

See? Doesn't that sound interesting? And it should have been! Something is eating Nazis! Is it evil? Is it helping? What is the deal with all the weird obsequious villagers and the lack of birds? Unfortunately, it sounds more exciting than it turned out to be. The origin story of the evil was pretty lame, and despite some excellent creepy moments along the way featuring the German soldiers and the Nazis, the finale was kind of a let-down. Plus, as I mentioned before, the romance was saccharine at best.

Though I wasn't crazy about The Keep, I plan to read another book by Wilson. There was a lot of potential here, and the characterization of the German leader (he was definitely my favorite character in the whole thing) was pretty good. I'll let you know if the next book lives up to my hopes and makes this one worth reading in retrospect.

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