Robert Harris’s latest thriller focuses on one of our “great national humiliations”, said Jake Kerridge in The Daily Telegraph: the Munich Agreement of 1938. The novel describes events through the eyes of two fictional characters: Neville Chamberlain’s adviser Hugh Legat and his German counterpart, the aristocratic Paul von Hartmann. Years before, the pair were friends at Oxford; now, Hartmann is involved in an army plot to overthrow Hitler, and tries to use Legat to smuggle key documents to the British. Munich is a “superb, compelling novel” which, among other things, makes the case for appeasement “with eloquence”.
“With a few exceptions, thrillers depend on uncertainty,” said Dominic Sandbrook in The Sunday Times. Because “everyone knows” what happened in 1938, Munich “never quite sizzles” – though the story “races by”. In fact, Harris “generates a galloping sense of excitement”, quite “defying hindsight”, said Boyd Tonkin in the Financial Times. With “moral subtlety as well as storytelling skill”, he “makes us regret the better past that never happened”.