The ‘aftermath’ in Rhidian Brook’s excellent third novel is that of the Second World War. But rather than add to the glut of fiction set in bombed-out 1945 Berlin, Brook charts original terrain by unfolding his drama in Hamburg in 1946 at Stunde Null (‘zero hour’), as the city’s hungry and homeless survivor-inhabitants start again from scratch. At the beginning of the book an American officer tells our hero, Colonel Lewis Morgan, that the British got the bum deal in the carving-up of Germany: ‘The French get the wine, we get the view and you guys get the ruins.’ The Aftermath quickly becomes a captivating tale not only of love among the ruins but also of treachery and vengeance.
Lewis, having had a good war, now finds himself tasked with restoring order and rekindling amity between the victors and the vanquished. He requisitions a grand villa on the banks of the Elbe in which to live with his grieving wife, Rachael, and their only remaining son, Edmund. But instead