The Rules of Perspective is set at the end of World War II as the curator of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum scurries to prevent a nasty Nazi from absconding with a Van Gogh before the avenging Americans make their entrance into town. With graphic descriptions of bombing raids and the moral aftermath of discoveries made in the ensuing rubble, Thorpe paints a vibrant portrait of the unique challenges facing the inhabitants, the conquerors and the invaders at the end of the long national nightmare.
Also explored are the unusual moralities people indulge in when under the constant threat of death, followed by the joy of liberation. Nameless, almost faceless assignations take place frequently as people grasp at what comfort they could grasp from each other in their desperate grasping for each other. More a matter of dealing with life and death than of promiscuity, The Rules of Perspective help those who were spared the terror and triumph of that era.
The character of Corporal Neal Parry conveys such intense emotions ranging from desperation to elation, with stopovers at greed and lust, that he practically leaps from the pages before the readerís eyes. His desperation over what to do when confronted with the possibility of having a fortune if only he will steal a national treasure is palpable. Herr Hofferís character is also well-developed as a dedicated museum curator forced to cooperate with the Nazis to prevent the treasures he guards from going up in flames or feeding the coffers of the party of occupation. A brilliantly taut plot is accented by tidbits of historical trivia, such as the keeping of priceless art in deep salt mines to protect them from bombs, that add to the quick pacing of the story without bogging it down in overwhelming detail.
The Rules of Perspective is a fabulous read for anyone who loves novels based on history. It is a hard task to weave a believable fiction around fact, but Adam Thorpe does so with great grace.