Blood of the Reich is William Dietrich’s latest thriller. In this first exposure to Dietrich’s list of suspense novels, I was caught from the very beginning, and I remained interested to the end.
All the elements that make up this type of thriller are present—Nazis of the worst kind, a quest for a type of lost ark (in this case the mythical land of Shambhala), a romance, and a quest to save, or destroy civilization, itself. There is not one but several mysteries that the reader is compelled to try and solve.
I do not want to give away the plot, but I am confident that every reader will think of Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark. No doubt Dietrich is counting on the popularity of Indiana Jones to attract readers.
The mystery shifts back and forth between Washington state and Tibet, between the present and 1938. The relationship between the locals and the time periods is a part of the mystery that unfolds through the novel.
Part of the novel’s appeal, at least for me, is Dietrich’s use of real places to ground the story in the “real” world. He refers to small towns and roads in Washington, his home state. One can take out a map of Washington and follow Rominy Pickett and Jake Barrow from Seattle to Hood’s Cabin in the northern Cascades. The little town of Concrete, population of 866, was home for my wife’s parents during the early 1950s.
Dietrich also draws upon mysteries surrounding Heinrich Himmler and the SS during the Third Reich. It is well known that Himmler and others in the SS wished to discover the historical roots of the Aryans, whom they thought were a distinct race and forefathers of the Germans.
Wewelsburg castle, the spiritual home of the SS planned by Himmler, is real. Historians of the Third Reich remain unable to unlock the mysteries surrounding Wewelsburg.
The Ahnenerbe, or The Ancestral Heritage Research and Teaching Society that plays a prominent role in Blood of the Reich, was founded in 1935 by Heinrich Himmler. It was a “scholarly” association of academics—historians, archeologists, doctors, scientists—who shared Himmler’s obsession. The Ahnenerbe sent out expeditions to the far corners of the world in quest of the historical roots of the Aryans.
As a history professor who has studied modern German history, these references to the mysteries surrounding Himmler and the SS added to my enjoyment of the novel. In fact, I would encourage potential readers to take a little time to google such topics as Ahnenerbe, Wewelsburg Castle, Aryan, Heinrich Himmler, Shambhala, Lhasa, Dalai Lama—before reading Blood of the Reich. I am confident that such a detour will only enhance the enjoyment of this novel. If the reader is not in the mood for research, it is still a good romantic thriller.
After this introduction to William Dietrich, I am looking forward to reading his earlier thriller, Ice Reich (1998).