The title, an acronym, stands for the German phrase Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydrich (“Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich”) The book focuses on Operation Anthropoid, a mission run by Czech partisan fighters Jozef Gabcik and Jan Kubis in collaboration with the British to assassinate Heydrich.
This highly original piece of work blurs the line between countless genres: historical fiction, thriller, biography, psychological and philosophical drama and memoir. The subject presents an emotional insight and an interesting view into events that actually took place. This is a very powerful story and all through the novel we live the author’s anguish and inner struggle he has presenting this gruesome period without dwelling on the gore of it all. France awarded him the prestigious prix Goncout du premier roman in 2010 for this masterpiece.
Mr. Binet tells us the story of Reinhard Heydrich, "the butcher of Prague," the Nazi official who first devised the road map leading to the extermination of millions of Jewish citizens and anyone who got in the way of the Third Reich. There are many pages dedicated to Heydrich’s carefully planned career and his rise through the Nazi ranks. Then the novel goes on to tell us about two assassins who were sent on a mission to eliminate Heydrich by the head of the Czechoslovakian government who was in exile in London at the time. The author takes us through the planning and the execution of the mission in which the assassins where parachuted at night into the hot zone where they were aided by the local resistance networks.
Mr. Binet carefully lays out the events, slowly builds up the tension and paints a vivid picture of what the characters see and how they handle the assassination attempt. The heat of the moment is turned up a notch when bullets and grenades start to fly and the two assassins eventually find themselves trapped in the basement crypt of a church with the Nazis swarming around trying to flush them out.
This novel has an original style, composed of 257 very short chapters in which the author details his thoughts and his research into the events. The narrative is melancholic, engaging and the technique in which it is transmitted is simple, clever and thought provoking. The story is steady paced with plenty of peak moments that held my interest from cover to cover.