In this alternate history novel, set in the spring of 1959 – a seemingly minor mistake in a wire transfer at a Swiss bank, leads to the discovery of a plot by the CIA to launch a nuclear attack on the leaders of the USSR and China and to install Hitler, who is still alive and hiding in South America, as the leader of Western Europe
Stephen Maitland-Lewis recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest thriller, LEGACY OF ATONEMENT.
Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?
I have always had a deep interest in the migration after The Second World War of the Nazi’s from Europe to South America – how they escaped, how they were sustained and how they lived in exile. A book about the search for Mengele sparked my interest and ultimately led to my latest novel Legacy of Atonement.
A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?
Actually this book was six or seven years in the making. It went through no end of edits and rewrites, and some major cuts too. Once I was around six months into it, I had reached the point of no return. I could no longer think of abandoning it. I had to persevere.
Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?
I always have music in the background.
The genre can change from jazz to classical very easily. While writing, I find piano or guitar solos less intrusive than big bands and vocals. Teddy Wilson, George Shearing, Errol Garner, Segovia and Joe Pass are my favorite musicians I play while writing. While I’m writing fiction, I do not read fiction. That is deliberate. I read biographies, history and political books.
When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?
I am not sure that in literature there is any empty space for a protagonist. I wanted to create a normal guy, a character shaped by the brutality his family suffered during the Holocaust, a measure of survivor’s guilt, and one who scarred by a failed marriage and separation from his children.
In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
A wish to read another Stephen Maitland-Lewis novel.
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
I have yet to start my next novel. Several ideas are slowly percolating but nothing yet has come to the boil.
Stephen Maitland-Lewis is an award-winning author, British attorney, and a former international investment banker. He has held senior executive positions in London, Kuwait, Paris, Munich, and on Wall Street prior to moving to California in 1991. He has owned a luxury hotel and a world-renowned restaurant and was also Director of Marketing of a Los Angeles daily newspaper. Maitland-Lewis is a jazz aficionado and a Board Trustee of the Louis Armstrong House Museum in New York. In 2014, he received the Museum’s
prestigious Louie Award.
A member of PEN, The Authors Guild and The Dramatists Guild of America, Maitland-Lewis is also on the Executive Committee of the International Mystery Writers Festival. In addition, he is on the Advisory Board of the California Jazz Foundation and is a former Board member.
His short stories have appeared in various magazines and his first collection, Mr. Simpson and Other Short Stories, was recently published. His novels, including the recent suspense thriller Duped, have received numerous accolades. Other titles include Hero on Three Continents, Emeralds Never Fade, Ambition, and Botticelli’s Bastard. Maitland-Lewis’ short story, Mr. Simpson, was developed as a play and has been performed by various theatre companies. He divides his time between Beverly Hills, CA and New Orleans, LA.
To learn more about the author and his work, please visit his website.