Book Review: The Writer by J.C. Maetis


The Writer by J.C. Maetis


The Writer by J.C. Maetis – Schindler’s List meets The Tattooist of Auschwitz –  a gripping tale of love, survival and redemption against the backdrop of one of the darkest periods in recent history.

Two Writers. One lives to write. The other writes to live…

1938, Vienna. With Hitler’s takeover of Austria, Anschluss, friends and fellow-writers Mathias Kraemer and Johannes Namal fear they won’t be allowed to write anymore. They turn for advice and help to their literary agent, Julian Reisner, and a local police contact, Inspector Josef Weber.

Julian Reisner is in fact the main lynchpin between them, having introduced Mathias and Johannes to each other, as well as to Josef Weber for research for their crime novels. Reisner has a wealth of contacts in Vienna, and hopes that the case examples of other notable Austrian writers such as Stefan Zweig and Sigmund Freud will provide solutions for Mathias and Johannes.

Though as Nazi edicts become day by day more threatening, the options for Mathias and Johannes to save themselves and their families become increasingly limited. Reisner’s only ace-card is a network he’s used to shield the identities of some dissident ghost-writers he’s represented. But it’s a high-risk strategy, and if uncovered would mean almost certain execution or consignment to death-camps for Mathias and Johannes and their families.

There’s also only so much that Inspector Joseph Weber can do to help. Trapped between trying to continue his duties as a policeman and serving the new Reich, whose ethos goes against all his moral principles, he’s walking a dangerous tightrope. Even moreso because of his relationship with a beautiful and alluring Romani-gypsy girl, Deya Reynes. Deya has in fact buried her own background as Spanish through her cousin who heads up this same burgeoning identity-change network used by Julian Reisner for his dissident authors, and might now also provide the solution for Mathias and Johannes.

But with the relentless pursuit and focus on their group by an SS Officer, Heinrich Schnabel, consignment to a death camp appears inescapable. Josef also fears that in the process Deya’s own gypsy background will be uncovered, and having delayed fully declaring his love for her, now he might be too late.

Survival outside of the camps appears equally as tough. Though while ‘writing’ might be what has initially condemned Mathias and Johannes, could it also be their salvation? Pitted against the ruthless Schnabel and a brutal death-camp Sergeant, Helmut Vogt, the odds are against them.


Maetis is the original Jewish family name of British thriller writer John Matthews, with 1.6 million books sold in 14 languages, with one book, Past Imperfect, included in a top-ten all-time best legal-thrillers list in The Times. In his own words: ‘I thought it more fitting that I should revert to my father’s original name for this particular book. My father’s family left Lithuania for London in 1919 in the wake of Jewish pogroms there, but many of his extended family perished in the holocaust when Hitler invaded Lithuania in 1941. This is therefore a book very close to my heart.’




I was approached by the author to read and review his newest novel – The Writer. It is not published yet, and he was in need of reviewers and book bloggers to hopefully help get his book published. My review is below and I sincerely hope The Writer gets published. It was a fantastic engrossing read!

The Writer, set in Austria, begins at the start of Nazi takeover. It follows two writers, their literary agent and a local police inspector who walks the line of friendship and doing his duty as a policeman serving the new Reich. This is a total engrossing read as it spans the escalating levels of the Hitler-Nazi effect.  Historical fiction at its finest as it is a well plotted story. The events unfold in front of you. Fear, twists, harshness, hope, horror are all present as you are exposed to the lives of two writers during one of the darkest times in our history. Varied characters, the main characters, as well as the secondary characters; you remember them all. A dark, heart wrenching subject told in a powerful, compelling way. This has been a learning experience which has stayed with me long after I’ve closed the book. A highly recommend read.

Reviewed by Comfy Chair Books/Lisa Reigel (September 17, 2019)

ARC provided by author



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