The Human Pool
THE HUMAN POOL
Rumors about Willi Schmidt's actions during the Second World War were enigmatic, to say the least. He worked for U.S. Intelligence out of Switzerland; he cut black-market deals on the side; he rescued scores of Jews from the Nazis. Saint or sinner? Either way, Schmidt was strictly murky waters -- and reports of his death in 1945 surprised no one.
Sixty years later, Joe Hoover is convinced Schmidt is still alive, armed with a false name and a fortune in pharmaceuticals. For years, Hoover, former Intelligence courier for the American spymaster Allen Dulles, has been haunted by misgivings about his own wartime role in his boss's top-secret financial partnership with the Third Reich. Now, someone wants Hoover dead.
Back in Europe, Hoover discovers that operations he thought had ended long ago are still being played out. Forming an uneasy alliance with Vaughan, an undercover journalist investigating neo-Nazi traffic of Kurdish refugees, he begins to unravel a conspiracy that leads deep into his past, to his days mixing with Nazi officers in the supposedly neutral cities of Zurich, Istanbul, and Budapest, where enemies did deals over cocktails.
At each step, Hoover finds the shadow of Willi Schmidt and the specter of World War II's most grotesque and enduring legacy -- a trade in people: the human pool.
Set against a vivid historical backdrop, The Human Pool mixes fiction and fact to explosive effect. Chris Petit has crafted his finest novel yet -- a cosmopolitan, thinking-person's thriller that turns the world inside out and traces its veins: It spells nothing less than the rebirth of the great espionage novel.