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"The Pieces from Berlin" by Michael Pye

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In "The Pieces from Berlin" Michael Pye gives us a very spare consideration of guilt over past sins. The sin? Stealing or hoarding artwork in the face of Nazi confiscation from Jews. The miscreant in this case is a now-elderly woman who took custody of a considerable number of pieces, who while purportedly doing a service to her Jewish clients, nevertheless becomes wealthy and prominent as the holder of the valuables.
I stuck with this lean, almost skeletal, story, but it fell short for me on multiple counts. The characters' motivations, particularly the old woman's son (who kills himself), are a mystery. We're not placed in the time or place effectively at all, and the oblique thought processes that run through the book left me unconvinced. As I finished this book, it felt simply like an exercise that I was dutifully finishing.
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