I may not have been the very first one, but I was certainly among the earliest reviewers of the novels of South African writer Peter Borchard a.k.a. Peter Vollmer. My reviews began with 2011’s Relentless Pursuit, continued with 2012’s Diamonds Are But Stone, and 2015’s Left For Dead. Of special interest was his 2015 Per Fine Ounce, a continuation novel featuring a character named Geoffrey Peace created by fellow South African novelist Geoffrey Jenkins, a writer with notable connections with Ian Fleming.
In my earlier reviews, I observed that Vollmer is a more than worthy successor to the very successful Jenkins as both writers share much in common. For one matter, both are very adept with descriptions of both characters and settings. Both can take the reader to international locations sketched in vivid detail, no matter what era of history is being used. Both can give the reader fast-paced thrill-rides in stories difficult to pigeon-hole into any particular genre.
A Question of Allegiance is narrated in the first person by Matthias Aschenborn, the son of a well-to-do Southwestern African farmer and businessman with strong roots in Germany. The story opens as the Nazis are coming to power in the Fatherland, and Matthias and his brother George travel to Germany hoping for a university education there. However, Matthias is conscripted and he is trained as an aviator destined for service in the Luftwaffe. He quickly realizes he’s a natural at flying and begins a romance with his trainer’s daughter, Wiebke Osterkamp. George also has a romantic relationship, but it’s problematic as Ruth is a Jew. The issue of Jews in Nazi Germany is a constant concern in the first chapters of the book as none of the Aschenborn’s support the Nazis and have many Jewish friends and business associates.
Thereafter, much of the book reads like Aschenborn’s wartime memoirs as he sketches his adventures in battles in Spain, Russia, and then back to Germany. Some passages show him a man women seem to find irresistible and some sections describe grisly war atrocities. In the waning days of the war, the Russians capture him and transport him to a Russian gulag, sentenced to 10 years hard labor. To say more would take this review into the realm of spoilers. I will say there comes a point where it seems this book is really two novels in one.
Clearly, the main audience A Question of Allegiance should appeal to should be readers who like historical fiction, especially those interested in the European theatre of World War II. But you don’t have to be an aficionado of the era and setting to appreciate the very human saga of Matthias Aschenborn, especially as he doesn’t simply tell us what he did, when, and where, but also shares his feelings and thoughts and reveals the why’s of his actions. These “whys” likely were the same for many Germans swept up in the hard tide of history.
Even after all these years, for many Peter Vollmer remains an unknown quantity. A Question of Allegiance may be the book to change all that.
Wes Britton’s 2011 review of Relentless Pursuit was posted at:
Wes Britton’s 2012 review of Diamonds Are But Stone is up at:
Wes Britton’s 2015 article,” The Re-Boot of PER FINE OUNCE: A Continuation Novel That Isn’t What You Think” was published at:
Wes Britton’s 2015 review of Left for Dead is up at:
This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Sept. 23, 2017 at: