While there have been many fictional accounts written of the ties between Nazism and the occult most of them have been pulp reads with themes so over the top that Hitler’s preoccupation with the supernatural is often reduced to a plot device or an ongoing punch line. Case White is a rare instance in which a fictional, grandiose historical drama treats the subject of the Third Reich’s fascination with the supernatural with respect and accuracy. It could be argued that Case White’s raison d’être is the authors attempt to educate readers in Hitler’s all too real attempts to posses both the Spear of Longinus (the spear that was used to penetrate Christ’s body while on the cross) and The Holy Grail (the cup from which Christ last drank wine).
Thomas Sullivan’s accounting of Hitler’s quest for the Spear of Longinus and The Holy Grail is brought to us through the eyes of two male characters. The first is, Mika Lott, a Jewish watchmaker in Vienna who takes note of a young Adolf Hitler as Hitler stands and stares at the spear for hours on end at the Hofburg Museum. The Spear of Longinus is said to have the power to turn the world toward good or evil, and Mika discovers that Hitler believes it is his destiny to wield it. Mika tries to alert everyone, including the Jewish underground to the danger he believes Hitler represents. But Hitler’s power base is growing, and Mika Lott is severely beaten for his efforts. But Mika’s suffering under Hitler’s authority has only just begun. In short order, Mika’s life will turn heartbreaking… and especially gruesome.
The other main character Sullivan introduces is a young architect named, Josef Krantz, an Aryan living in Germany. Krantz barely follows politics so he dismisses the talk of an upcoming war, and he often gets into heated arguments with his Polish girlfriend about what’s to come. Unfortunately, nobody escapes the clutches of Nazism so Krantz is recruited by Adolf Hitler to unearth a sacred relic located somewhere in Poland. It is a chalice located in the depths of an old foundation that is buried beneath mountain ruble. Like, Mika Lott, who Krantz will meet twice during their lifetimes, Krantz’s life will be changed for the worse by Hitler…far worse than he ever could have imagined.
Case White follows both of these men through the lead-up of World War II to its conclusion. Readers will be stunned at what Sullivan has in store for them as the author pulls no punches when detailing their exploits. We at turn feel terrified, nauseous, numb, and full of rage as we watch Sullivan’s characters lose those they love, their identity, and their very humanity when forced to commit acts so heinous that we have no choice but to stop reading to clear our heads. In this reviewers case, I let the book sit for two days before picking it back up I was so shaken by a scene late in the novel.
Though Case White is a book heavily influenced by the occult, I will say that except for one scene that is sexually explicit and decided spooky, there is not a whole lot of supernatural happenings that occur during the course of the novel. The majority of the terror in Case White is of the human variety which, in the context of this novel, is far more frightening than any imagined demons. I would also say that Case White does require some patience while reading as the first third of the novel is heavy on backstory. I admit to having difficulty remembering the names of all of the principles and locations mentioned at the start, but as the novel progressed it became apparent that I did not need to memorize any of it so I relaxed and enjoyed the story.
Thomas Sullivan’s prose in Case White is a triumph. His narrative is literate, descriptive and imaginative, so much so that his sentences form a rhythm that becomes easy to get lost in. The writing is so superb that readers will have no problems becoming empathetic with Sullivan’s characters. It’s these emotional feelings we have for Lott and Krantz that make Case White not only as compelling as it is, but also as terrifying as the author intended.
Case White is highly recommended.
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