Written by Mike Stotter



the critically acclaimed author of

Something in the Sea (Bloomsbury)

comes ‘a riveting historical thriller’


Published on 10 November 2016, paperback original, £11.99


to mark the Anniversary of the opening of the Nuremberg Trials on 20 November 1945,  and the 70th Anniversary of the Nuremberg Executions this autumn


Read Stephen Thornley’s review

In The Nuremberg Enigma, Yves Bonavero (left) tests and subverts our view of history; then, with a deft weaving of fact and fiction, he guides us towards an explosive denouement in this riveting, historical thriller. The novel’s hero, Peter Birkett, is based on Michael Howard (below), a real-life T Force Intelligence Officer. Michael, now 90, had a life-long ambition to see T Force given its proper place in history. Over a ten-year period, Yves worked with him to uncover his memories and records, and pay tribute to him in what Michael himself describes as ‘a riveting historical thriller.’


Yves Bonavero explains further why he wrote this, his second novel:

‘I wrote The Nuremberg Enigma as an alternative form of ‘alternative history’. What if, out of all the facts historians have painstakingly established over the years, a couple had been different – but only marginally so? Would these mini-tweaks be capable of producing world-changing consequences, or is history pre-determined? I wanted the structure of the story to be radically different from other alternative history novels which I admire such as The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H. by George Steiner, Fatherland by Robert Harris or The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. I also wanted to explore the Nuremberg trials, the thought processes of the judges and the ethical dilemmas facing well-intentioned individuals. Which, out of the cold-war realpolitik and nascent dream of international justice, would win the day?’

The novel reflects both his love of historical research, and the work he has done to support human rights for over half a century: founding in 1990, with his wife, the AB Charitable Trust which has since made £15 million in grants, mainly to charities working with prisoners, refugees and asylum-seekers; helping to establish the Amnesty Human Rights Centre in 2001; and endowing the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at Oxford University, which starts work in October: ‘My hope is that it will help resist the erosion of human rights worldwide.’


Berlin, April 1945. The Führer is missing and the hunt is on - could Hitler be alive?

The Reich is imploding. Soon, an International Military Tribunal will convene in Nuremberg to pass judgement on the Nazi elite. It is beset by divisions between the victorious Allies. A rampant Göring is running rings around the prosecution. Anyway, what could this trial possibly mean without Hitler in the dock?

Against the backdrop of a convulsed Europe, Peter Birkett – the youngest captain in the British Army assigned to the mysterious and all-powerful T Force – and Captain Elizaveta Terisova – Stalin’s favourite Komsomol maiden – are confronted with the horror of war, the moral and physical dangers of occupation and the peculiar plight of women in combat zones. Smart, resourceful and ruthless, both are deeply conflicted, struggling with their own demons, and baffled by the realpolitik masquerading as international law. Which of their moral principles, if any, can they afford to uphold? What will become of nineteen-year-old Susette, Peter Birkett’s German girlfriend?

In a world of spies and doppelgängers, where identifiers such as dental records and fingerprints only add to the confusion, Captain Peter Birkett is having to make life-and-death decisions which not only challenge his moral certainties, but may change the course of history…

Michael Howard and T Force – The fictional character of Peter Birkett was inspired by the extraordinary true story of Michael Howard, who in 1946, aged 19, was sent into the British zone of occupied Germany as part of Target ('T') Force, the special army unit set up to locate and remove to the UK German industrial and intellectual capacity. He was soon appointed Intelligence Officer of the unit covering the ruins of the Ruhr, work that brought him into direct conflict both with resentful ex-Nazis and with the Russians - erstwhile allies, now Cold War rivals - who made regular incursions into the British zone in search of the spoils of war. Meanwhile, he fell in love for the first time, with Margret, the daughter of the German doctor in whose house he was billeted. Michael Howard, now 90, lives in Sevenoaks.

The Nuremberg Enigma will appeal to fans of psychological thrillers, anyone with an interest in World War Two and the Volga Germans, lovers of history and those interested in international law and human rights.