A Spanish Captain rescues four people afloat on a raft at sea in 1940. They don’t speak Spanish and the Captain doesn’t speak German, but he quietly gets them to safety and in return, the leader gives him a strange gold emblem. For the rest of his life, Manuel Gonzalez Pereira tries to find what the medal means and where it came from. All he ever was able to find that it was a Masonic symbol, but every Mason he ever contacted told him that it was probably fake.
Pereira eventually dies, leaving the emblem to his son, Juan Carlos. Years later, he crosses paths with a man that has a story to go along with that emblem. It is a tale of families, of betrayal, of father that a son never knew, and a quest that takes place in turbulent 1930’s Munich.
Earlier this month, I read Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts, so delving into the fictional Munich during the same time period gave me such a comfortable feeling. The late 30’s however, were not a comfortable time to live in Germany and The Traitor’s Emblem felt so authentic, almost gave me the creeps as I was reading it.
I enjoyed this more than his last work, The Moses Expedition. I’ll be honest though, I can’t really put my finger on why. At their most basic, they are both personal quests with political/religious overtones, but The Traitor’s Emblem just seemed more unputdownable.
The Traitor’s Expedition by Juan Gomez-Jurado