|Augusto Ferrera: The Honor of Peter Kramer|
Authors Guild Backinprint.com Edition (Trade Paperback), ISBN: 0-595-08906-2
In The Honor of Peter Kramer, Augusto Ferrera tackles monumental issues: peace in the Mideast, World War II, the Holocaust, the Nazi SS, white supremacists and the expedience of assassination. Unfortunately, to borrow a football metaphor from U.S. President Simon Bolivar Jensen (a character in the book), Ferrera fumbles the ball. The plot, writing and characters cannot sustain these weighty worldwide matters. The novel also lacks the tension necessary for a political thriller.
Peter Kramer and his wife Erika, a physician, emigrate from Switzerland after WWII. He earns a Ph.D. from Harvard in Middle Eastern history, teaches at Harvard, then at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. A paper Kramer writes on the Mideast Crisis catches the attention of President Simon Bolivar Jensen, named after General Simon Bolivar (1783 - 1830), who liberated a number of South American countries from Spanish rule.
Seems Jensen also wishes history to remember him -- as the American President who brought peace to the Middle East. He appoints Kramer special ambassador to negotiate a Mideast peace accord.
With his high profile position and the press attention, Kramer risks discovery of and ruin by his secret past -- his service during WWII. When a high-placed government official learns about Kramer's personal history, the official's response threatens the peace initiative.
Meanwhile, the principles of good writing threaten to disappear. The stilted, melodramatic narrative and dialogue in The Honor of Peter Kramer impede rather than draw the reader into the novel. Many passages, some quite long, constitute political tracts of time-worn arguments -- for example, one character's lengthy tirade on the virtues of Nazism.
The characters lack depth and genuine emotion, and often border on stereotypes. President Jensen represents the "great" man with a flaw. (Author Ferrera never links up the Simon Bolivar reference, much less Jensen's relationship to Spanish nobility and the Vikings, with the plot.) Peter Kramer depicts the "good" man who acts according to his conscience. Erika, married to Peter, portrays the worried wife. Despite the novel's emphasis on their love, she remains in the background, never adding to the story. In fact, the few women in the novel serve only as insignificant plot devices. The men play the political and war games. The men advance the story line.
No plot tension exists. The story plods along. The dangerous moments never grip the reader, and the ending comes as no surprise. Boredom also prevails.
Lynn I Miller
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