Review: The Web ~ Richard Stephans

The webUte was dead! The police asked if she had any problems – if she was depressed. They said her death looked like an accident but it could also be suicide. Her friends couldn’t believe it. They knew Ute. Suicide was impossible – it had to be an accident! It was two years ago that the four of them had first met at the NPD meetings, a right-wing extremist political party in Munich where they had quickly become good friends. Ute was the expert on the violence of the right-wing extremists. Her brother had been an active part of the skinhead violence against foreigners and asylum seekers and was now in prison. She understood the dark side of the NPD. Anya was the intellectual – the historian. She knew about the past – the legacy of the right-wing extremists and she understood their push for power. Anya, Ute and their two friends had joined the NPD out of curiosity and were now trapped in a dangerous web of extremism where hate, racism and lies were the strands that held it together and gave it strength. Could they escape? And what about Ute? Anya said she had a secret that no one knew about – and now she was dead! Was it really an accident – or was it suicide? “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

4 Thumbs-UpThis is a great little novella and, at 94 pages, can easily devoured in one sitting.  Also surprisingly for a short read it is available in both e-book and paperback format.

Unlike many Authors of novellas, this one doesn’t try to pack as much as possible into as few pages as they can; this Author gets right to the point of the novella and sticks with it through to the end. There is no unnecessary fluff or frills, no padding out to make situations more interesting than they really are; this is a gritty, ‘pulls no punches’ in your face tale about thinking for ourselves and creating our own views on the world by understanding how history has formed and shaped the one we now live in.

There are no characters that we need to have an opinion on, even though the book contains people who propel the storyline along.  These characters are not here to win our approval or dislike, they are included to help the reader learn more about the subject matter and deliver the underlying message contained within the lines; the message is we cannot just be followers we often have to take the lead.

The novella is very politically charged and, setting it in Munich Germany, was a very shrewd move on the part of the writer.  In this location, where the dangers of right-wing extremism are still very much alive in memories, the Author takes the reader on a journey that deals with some very contemporary and global issues such as racism, nationalism and immigration.  To add another layer to the plot we also have a murder mystery but, for those who are not a lover of this genre, it very much takes a back seat to the political aspect of the novella.

The book is very well written, proof read and edited with no apparent errors that I could see, and it was a very satisfying way to spend a few hours after Sunday lunch with a glass of wine.  I would highly recommend this short to lover of political writings and also those who enjoy reading philosophy.  I will definitely be reading some more by this Author.